REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, MADIUN - Indonesia`s district heads have been called to protect rice fields to support national rice production. National rice production must be supported by availability of rice fields and farmers` will to plant and cultivate paddies, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said when he made the call at a meeting with farmers in the East Java district of Madiun on Tuesday.
"East Java is one of the rice producing provinces and the position must be maintained," he added.
The head of the agriculture, food crops and horticulture service of the Madiun district, Najib, said dozen hectares of rice fields in the region change into shops or housing complexes every year. "This year alone 10 to 15 hectares of rice fields have been converted into buildings," he said.
According to the local agricultural service more than 22 hectares out of 32,000 hectares of rice fields in the district vanished in the past three years. The target of rice production for the district has been set at 6.3 tons per hectare for the 2013.
President Yudhoyono was in the district for a grand harvest event in Sukorejo village, Kebonsari. He is also scheduled to visit Magetan for the same purpose on Wednesday. He was flanked by First Lady Any Yudhoyono and several cabinet ministers.