Published: Sunday 31 March 1996

-- The government's decision to change the way of distributing urea aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in rice production, has boomeranged. There is wide-spread food shortage and some rural areas are facing the threat of malnutrition.

Indonesia's rice farms. ravaged by wrong -policies It all began with the government deciding to promote the use of urea in tablet form rather than as powder. Research suggests that tablet increases rice harvests by 13 'per cent and reduces urea requirements by 36 per cent. The government pressurised the farmers to comply by stopping the sale of powdered urea. It led to panic and protests in the rural areas, where the urea tablets are scarcely available and highly priced. Besides, the distribution of tablet requires more labour and special tools which cannot be afforded by the small-scale farmers.

The crisis has led the country to increase its rice imports this year by as, much as one million metric tonnes. The government plans to cut down imports by clear-ing 6ne million ha of forests in Kalimantan, northerp indonesia, for paddy fields.

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.