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Ministry of Agriculture names research, innovation strategic programmes in 2021

The Indonesian government is intent on spurring economic growth and recovery this year, on the back of the steady implementation of research and innovative programs in science and technology in the agriculture sector. 

This was the message of Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo during the Joint Working Meeting of Commission IV DPR RI held this week in Jakarta. The Minister announced in a statement that the department’s priorities this year is to implement advanced programmes in science and technology in a bid to streamline processes in the agriculture sector. 

This research project is one of the five work programmes of the agency this year, including programmes in ensuring the availability of quality food, access and consumption, industrial competitiveness; vocational education and training and its management support programme. 

The Minister said: “by sticking to these five programmes and paying attention to the refocusing and reallocation of the 2021 expenditure, the Ministry of Agriculture still has to carry out its main task of providing food for the entire population.” 

He then explained that the department is applying two approaches in implementing its goals. This will be done by conducting activities and supporting events. The Agricultural Research and Development Agency shall be responsible for putting up activities aimed at strengthening agricultural innovation. These include accelerating the use of agricultural technology and research in the regions and by refining superior plant varieties and livestock. 

These activities complement the vision of the national government in boosting the competitiveness of the agriculture sector, which in turn, can ramp up exports. The Minister noted that: “in implementing the programs and activities in 2021, the activities of the Ministry are to remain focused on providing food for the Indonesian population, followed by increasing agricultural competitiveness to fill the export market.” 

Key figures from different organisations present during the meeting echoed the vision of the Ministry. They agreed that by collaborating with educational institutions for research and development, the Ministry will be able to take on an active role in advancing agriculture. 

They added that conducting in-depth studies will help address current challenges in the industry such as shortages in product exports like beef. By employing research into technology, stakeholders in the agriculture sector can increase the production of livestock and crops which can be used for both consumption and exports. They also stated that the “development of beef cattle breeding and beef cattle fattening reduces dependence on imports and this has actually been done by the Animal Husbandry Research Institute in Ciawi.” 

The announcement comes on the heels of various tech innovations introduced earlier to support the government’s agricultural reforms. One of these advancements is the development of the RAISA technology which increased farm productivity to 5 to 6 tonnes per hectare from 2 to 4 hectares. 

This modern method of farming makes use of new, high-yield varieties of crops that can adapt well in swamps. It also utilised micro water management and introduction of soil repairs. On top of these, it allows the use of integrated agricultural mechanisms to prevent pest and plant diseases. 

The Ministry is set to roll out these projects despite a decrease in the budget allocation this year, which was pegged at IDR 15.51 trillion (US$ 1.1 billion), down from an initial IDR 21.84 trillion (US$ 1.5 billion). The Minister explained that the agriculture department helped save over IDR 6.33 trillion (US$ 450 million) from the overall state budget. It plans to make a few adjustments in some of its programmes to account for the available funds in 2021. 

The initiatives laid out by the Ministry are in consonance with the efforts of the government to accelerate its shift to digitalisation. According to an earlier report by OpenGov Asia, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology said that it continues to strengthen bilateral ties with Singapore in the field of digital transformation. 

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