Innovation, technology effective in increasing agricultural production: researcher

Land expansion is not effective as a primary solution in responding to challenges in the agricultural sector and meeting Indonesia’s food needs

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Embracing research, innovation and technology is expected to be more effective in increasing agricultural production capacity amid rapid population growth, according to the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS), a research institute.

“The government needs to strengthen existing food production by supporting research and innovation, adopting agricultural technologies and increasing the capacity of farmers to be more productive, including through collaboration with the private sector,” said CIPS head of agricultural research Aditya Alta in a press statement issued here on Monday.

CIPS research recommends increasing land and labor productivity by using superior seeds, increasing access to fertilisers, managing pests/plant killers (OPTs) and using farm machinery or mechanisation.

In addition, land productivity can be increased by improving cultivation techniques, improving and expanding irrigation networks, undertaking changes in weather to mitigate climate change, and increasing human resource capacity in the agricultural sector.

According to Alta, efforts to increase agricultural production by expanding agricultural land do not guarantee increased food productivity and could potentially harm the environment and exacerbate the climate crisis.

“Land expansion is not effective as a primary solution in responding to challenges in the agricultural sector and meeting Indonesia’s food needs. This method is not in line with the principle of sustainability and has the potential to damage the environment,” he explained.

The agricultural sector, including in Indonesia, faces many challenges in growing food, he added. One of them is the climate crisis, which causes various natural disasters, the impact of which causes uncertainty during the planting and harvesting seasons and leads to reduced agricultural production.

The challenges facing the agricultural sector include the reduction in the number of workers, the declining welfare of farmers, the rising prices of fertilizers and other problems caused by the global situation.

“The population continues to increase. However, the amount of available land will remain the same and must be shared with infrastructure and industrialization needs. So the productivity capacity of existing agricultural land needs to be increased to keep up with the increase in food demand,” he said.

The productivity of Indonesia’s agricultural sector is still low due to a lack of research and innovation, as well as limited adoption of good farming practices and minimal use of agricultural technology, Alta added.

The CIPS study found that, in general, the cost of producing key food products in Indonesia is higher than in some countries exporting the same commodity, mainly due to Indonesia’s inefficient production mechanism and distribution system.

Alta said he believes high production costs can be overcome through sustainable agricultural investment that can encourage modernization and technology transfer.

“Indonesia’s food system still faces various problems, such as high production costs, inefficient production processes and long distribution chains, all of which affect prices,” he noted.

Clearing new rice fields, especially on peatlands, will take a long time. Moreover, they do not necessarily help to meet food shortages. Additionally, the characteristics of land cleared for agriculture may also not necessarily be suitable for growing food.

In addition, the land clearing program to create rice fields also risks endangering the existing ecosystem and disrupting the environmental balance.

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