On Thursday, under the command of the task force's post commander, Second Lieutenant Purwanta, seven soldiers were dispatched to help native Papuan farmers -- Yakop Maiwa and Doce Sanggra -- harvest rice, the task force's commander, Lt Col Anjuanda Pardosi, stated.
The soldiers' voluntary involvement in the villagers' rice harvesting process is focused on supporting the government's food security program, especially near the Indonesia-PNG border areas, and to maintain sound communication and social ties with the local people, he expounded.
"Food security is one of the important aspects for ensuring our country's stability. Hence, solid cooperation from the entire nation is indispensable," he stated.
Pardosi believes that the soldiers assisting in the rice harvesting process was expected to encourage local farmers to boost production of the commodity.
Maiwa expressed gratitude to the soldiers for their assistance that enabled him to complete the rice harvesting process sooner than before.
Indonesia has yet to achieve food security, which by definition is related to "food availability, food access, and food utilization" (USAID 1995 in FAO) despite a steady rise in its population.
Instead of feeding its people the rice that is produced by its own farmers, the central government has repeatedly imported rice over the past years to meet the people's demands.
This condition has, indeed, posed a grave challenge and does not bode well with Indonesia's status as one of the world's top agricultural countries.
Indonesia would be better off not importing rice from countries, including Thailand and Vietnam, on a permanent basis. This is since rice imports would potentially disadvantage local farmers and threaten its national security in the long term.
On April 21, 2020, President Widodo had urged officials to make a precise assessment of Indonesia's rice stocks.
The president's directive came close on the heels of the FAO of the United Nations' warning of the COVID-19 pandemic triggering a global food crisis.
The Ministry of Agriculture has encouraged Indonesian farmers to implement an integrated farming method to aid in enhancing the profitable usage of their farmland to support the government's efforts to transform Indonesia into a food barn.
EDITED BY INE