Indonesian researchers are calling for the adoption of new agricultural technology to protect the industry from climate change.
Haryono, the head of the Agriculture Ministry’s research and development center, said at a discussion in Jakarta on Wednesday that 60 percent of farming-reliant countries worldwide, including Indonesia, China, India and much of Latin America, would feel the impact of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns that could threaten food security.
“That’s why researchers are sending out the message that all countries, particularly agrarian ones, must adopt policies to increase their productivity,” he said.
One such government policy in Indonesia is targeting the creation of a 10 million ton rice surplus in 2014.
“That, in turn, means carrying out programs such as reducing per capita rice consumption by 1.5 percent, expanding land for rice paddies by 130,000-hectares, expanding irrigation networks by 18.8 percent, and reducing crop waste by 1.5 percent,” Haryono said.
Listyani Wijayanti, the deputy for biotechnology and agro-industry at the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT), agreed that agricultural innovations would be needed to mitigate the effects of climate change.
She said her agency was working on various initiatives to that end, including the development of microbes to boost soil acidity and improve crop yields.
Another program is the breeding of tilapia, a freshwater fish, to be able to adapt to more saline conditions, in anticipation of increased salinity in rivers in coastal areas as a result of rising sea levels, Listyani said.
“We need technology to support our efforts for food security, particularly when faced with the threats from climate change,” she said.
She identified some of the potential threats as an increase in pest populations, crop failures as a result of dry and rainy seasons that were increasingly out of sync, and degradation of farmland.
Haryono said Indonesia needed to invest heavily in a range of technology research to address these risks.
“That includes genetic engineering to create crop cultivars that are more adaptable to the changing conditions, and technology for the management of land and water,” he said.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has urged the government to draw up a detailed map of the areas at high risk from the impacts of climate change.