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The food belt program by establishing new rice fields has been repeatedly carried out, but has failed.
JAKARTA, KOMPAS—The establishing of rice fields as part of the food belt project in Merauke, Papua, has resulted in many failures. Findings in the field show that most of the rice fields built are abandoned. In addition to land unsuitability, failure is caused by the lack of infrastructure support and lack of farmer labor.
In Bokem Village, Merauke District, Merauke Regency, the former rice fields that were developed in 2018 are mostly abandoned. "The rice field in the location of the rice field development cannot be planted. I have tried to plant two seasons but always failed. Many other farmers have also tried to fail, even losing money on planting and tillage costs," said Simon Wolo (53), Chairman of the Bokem Farmers Group Association, who was met in his village on Monday (14/12/2022).
According to Simon, in addition to the soil being too acidic, irrigation channels in the area have not been connected. "The primary, secondary and tertiary channels are not connected. There are water channels but they are only like separate ponds, which must be pumped to irrigate the rice fields," he said.
Simon said that from the beginning he had warned that the location chosen for the rice fields was not suitable for rice plants. "The project was done without consulting us. Suddenly there was a lot of heavy equipment coming. I told them it was a big swamp. It was where people used to hunt and fish. Besides being acidic, it is also often flooded," he said.