Indonesian farmers demand application of biotechnology

Selasa, 03 September 2013 | 09:38

A farmer group, Kontak Tani Nelayan Andalan (KTNA), demanded the application of biotechnology in Indonesia to boost agricultural productivity, following the impact of unpredictable climate on crops.Head of KTNA Winarno Tohir said on Monday that the agriculture sector in Indonesia is facing unpredictable weather pattern that cause droughts, floods and pest infestation, which affect crops productivity.

"The use of such technology is necessary to overcome such agriculture problem. Biotechnology is one of the innovation that is able to overcome the climate change effect," Winarno Tohir said in a seminar on Agriculture Biotechnology and its Challenge on Crops Productivity Enhancement in the Agriculture Ministry.

There have been numerous inventions and research from universities and government institutions that can be applied in the agriculture sector.

However, it needed the government regulation to pass the permit for the application of such technology. "Farmers are really expecting that biotechnology can be applied in Indonesia," he said.

Biotechnology, Tohir said, can be applied to produce plants that are resistant to drought, flood and particular pests as well as can be grown on peat land or on tidal land.

Moreover, the nutrient content and the harvest period can be designed and improved to cut down the use of pesticide.

"The land efficiency and cultivation may also contribute positively to the environment and reducing the green house effect," Director General of Food Plant Division of Agriculture Ministry Udhoro Kasih Anggoro said.

"If such technology is excelled, Indonesia will be able to achieve its food self-sufficiency and survive from global crisis," Anggoro said.

However, the application of biotechnology should not disregard the biosecurity and food safety.

New varieties of plants should also not be passed without being certified that they are environmentally safe.

The new genetically engineered varieties can only be applied if such products are biologically safe, Anggoro said.

Muhammad Herman, Spokesperson of Biotechnology Research and Development and Agriculture Genetic Resourse of the Agriculture Ministry, said that some biotechnology had been applied to the national agriculture sector such as stemborer-resistant paddy, drought-resistant sugar cane, rot-disease-resistant potato, and virus-resistant tomato.

"All of biotech plants should be certified that they are environmentally and food safely before being commercialized," Herman said.