A downturn in rice production has caused a scare in Indonesia. As the country celebFates the 50th anniversary of its independence, a prolonged drought and a marauding pest called the 'brown hopper' are forcing the country to import rice for the third time in 5 years. The major debate now on in the country is whether it is worthwhile at all to set aside huge areas for rice cultivation. According to Soedodo Hardjoamidjojo, an economist at the prestigious Bogor Institute of Agriculture, Indonesia can only sustain its self-sufficiency in rice by creating an additional 114,000 ht of new rice fields every year. Also, much will depend on how quickly Indonesia can effect changes in the national diet. Rice consumption is increasing by about 500,000 tonnes annually and the process of transition to other cereals has slowed down.
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