BOGOR, Indonesia—"No matter how many varieties we develop, if farmers do not plant them, our efforts to raise productivity in suboptimal rice environments will have no meaning."
This was the message of Hasil Sembiring, director general of the Directorate of Food Crops, Ministry of Agriculture in Indonesia, during a consolidation-workshop on upscaling technological innovation in suboptimal rice environments of Indonesia, held 11 March.
The activity, the first ever held in Indonesia, aimed to focus efforts on reaching out to poor farmers in suboptimal environments. In the past, the government had addressed productivity mainly in irrigated rice areas that comprise nearly 60% of the country’s total rice production area. Recently, the government has directed its resources to meet its target seed production for 2016-17 and it has included rainfed lowland (27.7%), swampy (8.8%), and upland (5.3%) areas.
Sembiring, a former director of the Indonesia Center for Rice Research (ICRR) and steering committee member of theConsortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments (CURE), has been calling for increased production to improve the livelihood of farmers severely affected by climatic variability. He has strongly supported efforts to develop climate-resilient varieties and community seed banks.
The workshop, held at the IPB International Convention Center in Bogor, was organized by the directorate in cooperation with ICRR and CURE. The purpose was to speed up the delivery of suitable seeds of newly released stress-tolerant rice varieties and the associated best management practices specifically suited for unfavorable environments in upland, swampy, rainfed, and flood-prone areas.
"CURE's role is to catalyze and encourage national governments to foster the scaling up of technological innovation developed out of the current partnerships," said Dr. Digna Manzanilla, CURE coordinator.
One workshop recommendation is to further strengthen collaboration among ICRR, the Indonesian Swampland Agriculture Research Institute (ISARI), and CURE to develop best management practices.
Ali Jamil, incumbent ICRR head, expressed his confidence in the appropriateness and readiness of technologies intended to raise productivity in Indonesia’s suboptimal environments.
These appropriate technologies include varieties; soil, water, weed, pest, and disease management; fertilizer recommendations; and postharvest practices. Also, a demo for the Seed Multiplication Program, which is targeting 2 million hectares, will be pursued via "1000 self-sufficient seed villages" (or DMB, an Indonesian acronym) to encourage and increase seed production for upland varieties in selected provinces. DMB will financially support the purchase of starter and foundation seeds from the Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology while the directorate seed program will use starter and extension seeds for food crops.
The seed production unit of the Field School of Food Kedaulatan, integrated with the DMB, ICRR, and the Directorate of Seed, has started seed multiplication of stress-tolerant rice varieties to support the effort in 2016.
Zaini Zulkifli, representing the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Indonesia, has been instrumental in making the consultation possible. He highlighted some technologies such as seeds, machinery, crop establishment, and crop and natural resources management. Casiana Vera Cruz and Yoichiro Kato, working group leaders of CURE, also joined the consultation.
A coordination meeting to re-examine the strategies for seed multiplication to develop working mechanisms and a timeline for producing seeds for the coming season was set for September 2016, according to Dr. Nandang Sunandar, director for cereals at the Directorate of Food Crops.
Attending the workshop (photos) were representatives of the Directorate of Food Crops, Directorate of Seed, Directorate of Cereal Crops, Indonesia Center for Food Crops Research and Development, Indonesian Center for Agricultural TechnologyAssessment and Development, ICRR, IRRI, and CURE. Also represented were the Swampland Agriculture Research Institute and representatives of the Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology in Riau, South Sumatra, Banten, Lampung, and West Java as well as local government units of South Sumatra, Lampung, Banten, West Java, East Java, andSouth Kalimantan.