February 21, 2005 - Most of the damaged land in the northern tip ofIndonesia's tsunami-devastated Sumatra island will be cultivated with palmoil plantations, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said.
The Indonesian government has carried out evaluations of potentialgreen-belt areas to decide which will be best suited for the palm oilplantations, he said on Sunday. "The next step is we will try to replantpalm oil trees,'' Apriyantono said during a one-day trip in provincialcapital Banda Aceh.
Indonesia is the world's second-largest palm oil producer after Malaysia,and production is estimated to reach about 10 million tons this year. Hesaid around 37,000 hectares of paddy field, 6,000 hectares of drylandcrops and 28,000 hectares of wetland crops were swamped by the massivewaves triggered by the December 26 earthquake.
Aceh was the closest area to the magnitude-9 quake. More than 121,000people were killed and almost 114,000 are listed as missing, with morethan 400,000 survivors displaced.
During Apriyantono's visit, the ministry distributed 200 kilograms ofvegetable seeds, as well as fertilisers for refugees in temporaryshelters.
``They were very enthusiastic with the program and horticulture istemporary, thus it won't create land rights problems,'' Apriyantono saidafter talking to about a dozen farmers in a rice paddy field on the mainroad to Banda Aceh airport.- REUTERS