Writer: Rojana Manowalailao, ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems
Left and right and right and left… Traveling from Kabanjahe to Perbulan Village of Karo Regency of Indonesia requires a lot of concentration and attention. While many several curves in this long and winding road can be exhausting and tiring but for the Indonesian Agriculture Ministry’s Director-General for Food Crops, Dr. Hasil Sembiring, this three-hour trip is tiny.
About a hundred of farmers are waiting for his arrival at the village. This is the first visit of the Indonesian Agriculture Ministry’s Director-General for Food Crops to this rice and maize production area.
“I am very happy that the Director-General for Food Crops comes to our village,” says one of the farmers. “Our village is not a core area, neither in terms of political nor economic influence, but he makes it here today.”
District of Karo’s local government invites Mr. Sembiring to the village to meet the farmers and learn about their challenges and difficulties and he agrees. He says Karo is his hometown.
Here at the village, challenges and difficulties include poor irrigation system, flooding, minimal use of land for its optimal output, and low quality of rice seed for planting.
Mr. Sembiring says that the Indonesian government encourages farmers to adopt innovative farming practices and technologies to increase rice production and reduce labor cost. He urges the local government of Karo District and farmers at Perbulan Village to request for national budgets to improve the situation.
He also extends his warm welcome to a GIZ representative who joins him in this trip and expresses his wishes to further develop cooperation with GIZ in improving the situation.
Regional Project Coordinator of German-ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (ASEAN SAS), based in Medan, Mr. Sulaiman Ginting, accompanies the Director General on the day. The ASEAN SAS is the only development agencies invited by the District of Karo’s local government to join this field trip.
Mr. Ginting says the field visit gives a great opportunity for the ASEAN SAS to look for possibilities for further future cooperation to support the national and local governments as well as the farmers.
“We are thinking about a capacity development project to help farmers in this area to produce their own quality rice seed for planting,” says Mr. Ginting.
And now back to the three-hour bumpy winding road but smiles are on the face.
The field visit was organized by District of Karo on 13 June 2015.