TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo highlighted his intent to expand the agricultural area in Maluku's Seram Island, particularly to transform abandoned land into productive areas.
"We need to expand the agricultural area in Seram Island owing to several vacant land areas existing in the island," Limpo remarked on Saturday.
The islands of Buru and Seram in Maluku Province have been developed as agricultural areas to cater to the food demand in the regions.
However, Limpo emphasized the need to expand agricultural areas in Seram Island and involve greater number of people to serve as farmers.
"We need to expand the agriculture area in Seram Island. However, more people would be required to work as farmers. The people are reluctant since they have yet to calculate the profits they can derive (from the agriculture sector)," he explained.
Limpo, the ex-governor of South Sulawesi, cited the example of corn farming, wherein each hectare of land can produce five to six tons of the commodity. With selling price at Rp3,000 per kg, farmers can earn Rp15 million during each harvest period after less than 100 days of planting.
"After taking into account the production costs of Rp4 million and additional costs of Rp1 million, the farmers will still earn Rp10 million. Farmers, with two or three hectares of land, will earn a bigger revenue," he expounded.
Limpo laid stress on agricultural development being paramount to boosting the people's welfare. "The problem of poverty can be tackled if we can manage the agriculture sector," he stated.
The minister has called on Maluku governor to formulate the design for large-scale agricultural development in Seram Island by utilizing the Agriculture Ministry’s funding.
The minister was in Ambon since Friday (May 29) for a working visit in the province.
During the visit, Limpo handed over the government's assistance worth Rp12.8 billion, in the form of nutmeg seeds to be planted in 900 hectares of land, and clove seeds for one thousand hectares of land. The assistance will additionally be channeled for rejuvenating 300 hectares of nutmeg plantation.