INDONESIA: Production of day old chick (DOC) broiler in 2009 is estimated lower than 1 billion

Production of day old chick (DOC) broiler in 2009 is estimated lower than 1 billion, according to the chairman of Indonesia Poultry Breeder Association, Paulus Setiabudi. He added that DOC broiler production would only reach 900 million until the end of this year.

The association saw a weaken purchasing power on poultry products as impact of the global crisis caused most of the decrease. Such situation has seen since the end of 2008 when farm-gate broiler prices dropped followed by the drop of broiler DOC prices.

Paulus said, poultry breeders have cut their production in order to ease the situation and increasing prices. He said, broiler DOC production in these 2 months was about 19 million chicks per week. “DOC production will be keep monitored so that we can make balance supply and demand,” Paulus added.

CORN production is expected to still post positive growth this year on the back of steady demand, in particular for food processing and feed stocks, indicating that the commodity will weather the current global economic downturn, officials at a corn seed producer said last month.

Corn production still has great potential to grow as demand for consumption, feed stock industry and other related industries is on the rise,” Mardahana, manager of corn seed producer PT DuPont Indonesia said. He said Indonesia’s corn production reached nearly 16 million tons in 2008, without giving a projected figure for 2009.

Back in December, Bayu Krisnamurthi, deputy to the coordinating economic minister, said that corn production in the country could rise to 18 million tons in 2009. With local consumption estimated at 15 million tons, Krisnamurthi said Indonesia would have enough for local needs and for exports.

As part of efforts to boost corn production, DuPont plans to expand its existing hybrid corn seeds. “Apart from building new hybrid rice seeds plant in Semarang, we are planning to expand our existing hybrid corn seeds plant in Malang,” said George Hadi Santoso, president director of PT DuPont Indonesia. Santoso said there was still room for Indonesian farmers to boost their corn production.

Mardahana pointed out that Indonesia’s corn production is still around 4 to 5 tons per hectare compared to 9.6 tons per hectare in the US. “Crop yield must continue to increase in order to be able to keep up with rising income, population and demand,” Mardahana said. “If yields don’t keep up, marginal or environmentally sensitive land could be pulled into production.”

Mardahana said land used for corn has increased 10 percent globally since 1981, while corn production has increased 56 percent over the same period as a result of crop management technology and genetics.

However, he said the uncertainty brought about by the global economic crisis, difficult access to loans, uncertain and unfriendly weather, poor infrastructure and the limited availability of production tools posed challenges to corn producers.

Corn is often farmed in remote areas of the country. The provinces of North Sumatra, Lampung, Central Java, East Java and Sulawesi have the potential to d evelop corn plantations. As corn can be used to produce ethanol, demand for the commodity can further increase in the future.

THOUGH Indonesia is making progress in its fight against avian influenza, specialists have warned that the danger posed by the H5N1 virus to humans remains high.

Last January, the Health Ministry announced two more people had died of the disease, bringing the death toll to 114, the highest in the world. Investigations indicated both victims had visited wet markets before contracting the disease.

However, Bayu Krisnamurthi, executive director of the National Committee for Bird Flu Control and Pandemic Preparedness, said there was no evidence the virus had mutated into a form that could make it easier for humans to be infected.

Bird flu has now become like other infectious diseases spread by animals,” Krisnamurthi said. “The virus is around us, but there’s no clinical evidence that it is any more dangerous than before.”

James McGrane, team leader of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Influenza Control Program in Indonesia, said the government had made substantial progress in bringing avian influenza under control, but more needed to be done.

“The disease appears to have been contained, with data appearing to indicate that both overall incidence and geographic spread are decreasing, although the disease remains entrenched in some areas,” McGrane said.

But McGrane said the country needed to work harder to tackle the disease, particularly on the island of Java, where most of the deaths have occurred.

Chairul Anwar Nidom, a virologist with the Tropical Disease Centre at Airlangga University in Surabaya, said a common policy on bird flu was lacking among government agencies, making controlling the disease more difficult.

Nidom criticized the government’s policy of vaccinating poultry rather than culling, believing that it masks the virus, and ultimately contributes to its mutation.

“There’s still no common agreement on this issue among government agencies. The agriculture and farming sector sees the need for vaccinations to save the economy,” Nidom said. “We are at a crossroads, having to choose between saving poultry and protecting human beings. Frankly, we still don’t know exactly the virus’s pattern of infection and its predispositions,” he said. “As long as it remains so, it will remain a threat to humans.”

Nidom said that based on his research in 2008, the mutation model of the avian influenza virus has changed and is no longer considered common. “Poultry no longer die when infected by the virus, but become virus carriers. The virus has changed rapidly,” he said.

His finding were confirmed by poultry disease expert Charles Rangga Tabbu from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, who said the virus today has different clinical symptoms than the first one discovered in Tangerang, Banten Province, in 2003. “The virus no longer shows specific clinical symptoms, making it more difficult to recognize,” Charles told Kompas newspaper in a recent interview.

The change in symptoms, he said, is due to a virus mutation, as well as from vaccinated poultry coming into contact with the virus. Such poultry have weak antibodies as a result of being vaccinated, causing the virus to remain in their bodies and ultimately in their feces, said Nidom, who criticized vaccinations as part of the bird flu eradication program. “When human gets sick, the poultry shouldn’t be vaccinated. Let the poultry get infected by the virus and die,” he said.

Vaccinations press the virus and keeps poultry from getting sick, but as a result, the virus is carried everywhere.”
Nidom said surveillance and reforming operations at poultry farms to improve sanitation was more effective than vaccines, but “unfortunately, the authorized government institution, in this case the Ministry of Agriculture, has been slow in doing so.”

The ministry has been widely criticized for its perceived slow response to the bird flu threat and failing to take fundamental steps such as setting up a database on the number of poultry farms and population of fowl.

More than five years after bird flu was first detected here, only Gorontalo and North Maluku remain free of the virus.

Bayu Krisnamurthi, head of the National Committee for Bird Flu Control and Pandemic Preparedness, said critics should empathize more with the agriculture ministry, which only has one directorate dealing with animal health while the Ministry of Health has several directorates dealing directly with bird flu.

“Restructuring poultry markets to improve health standards is also difficult because it is related to local administrations and the latter are often reluctant to do so. Many expectations have not been met, but we have to acknowledge that there has been progress,” he said.

Bayu said that the programs in 2009 are focused on increasing public awareness, restructuring the animal husbandry system, improving rapid response and surveillance skills, expanding the capabilities and capacity of health services, and developing preparedness for a pandemic. “The most important lesson learned is that we really need people’s participation,” he said.

GOVERNMENT’s plan to achieve self-sufficiency in beef by the end of 2010 has been cast in doubt by a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission IV on agriculture. Mindo Sianipar, from the Indonesia Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, said at a hearing with beef industry executives in Jakarta last month that increasing beef imports and a proposal from the Agriculture Ministry to import beef from Brazil showed a lack of seriousness about increasing local beef output.

The ministry set out in 2007 to achieve self-sufficiency in beef and other types of meat by the end of 2010. The program is aimed at increasing domestic beef output so as to supply about 90 percent of domestic demand, with the remaining 10 percent consisting of high-quality imports.

However, according to Thomas Sembiring, the chairman of the Indonesian Beef Importers Association, or Aspidi, instead of domestic output increasing, imports are soaring year-on-year.

In 2000, he said, the country imported only 20 percent of national beef needs. By 2008, the figure had increased to 35 percent, or more than 70,000 tons of beef, mostly from Australia and New Zealand. “The domestic cattle herd has not increased at all, and we have to import beef so as to keep domestic prices stable. Some slaughterhouses in Aceh and East Java are now slaughtering imported cattle rather than local cattle due to inadequate supplies at home,” Sembiring said.

Tjeppy Sudjana, the Agriculture Ministry’s director general of livestock, said that there was still one year to go on the program, and that the ministry was working to achieve its target by, for example, encouraging the grazing of cattle in palm-oil plantations and the use of palm-fruit fibers left over from processing cattle feed.

“We are rolling out the program in a number of provinces in Sumatra, such as South Sumatra and Riau,” he said.

THE Indonesian and Australia governments have agreed to reinforce their trade and investment relations as well as building capacity, especially in the agriculture sector.
The agreement was achieved in the Eighth Trade Minister Meeting in Sydney, Australia, last month.
Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu met with Australian Trade Minister, Simon Crean, at the occasion and discussed about improving bilateral relations and investments.

The ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand free trade agreement/FTA was signed last month in Bangkok, Thailand. Indonesia and Australia have agreed to build capacity by focusing on the agricultural sector, including improving the beef and dairy product industry, which is in line with Indonesia’s priority in the sector of food security. Mari and Crean also received FTA’s final draft on Indonesia-Australia joint feasibility study.

LAST month government announced that it would soon begin importing beef from Brazil, despite warnings from food safety analysts and local beef producers about the risk of cattle from that country being infected with foot-and-mouth disease.

“We are waiting for approval from the World Trade Organization to begin importing beef from Brazil,” said Anton Apriyantono, the Minister of Agriculture. The authorization request was sent to the organization in January.

The government said it would import from Brazil to anticipate high prices for medium-quality beef in the domestic market as well as to avoid a trading monopoly with countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

Anton said that the price of beef in Indonesia was continually climbing even though prices in international market fluctuated. “Beef prices in Australia and New Zealand are falling, but beef prices in Indonesia remain high,” Anton said. “Considering that fact, I think the government should add importer countries instead of depending only on existing importers.”

Indonesia’s beef imports have been steadily rising. In 2008, Indonesia imported 35 percent, or more than 70,000 tons, of its beef, up from 20 percent in 2000. Most of the stock comes from Australia and New Zealand.

After securing the WTO’s approval, Anton said, the ministry would sent an inspection team to the slaughter houses in Brazil to check the beef’s halal status.

Tjeppy Sudjana, the ministry’s director general of livestock, said beef imports from Brazil could begin after April if there were no delays in the approval process. He said Brazil had 240 million head of cattle and exported beef to more than 180 countries.

“We have heard of no complaints about beef imports from Brazil,” he said. The government also planned to open beef trading with Holland and Ireland.

Teguh Boediyana, executive director of the Indonesian Meat Producers and Feedlot Association, or Apfindo, said the government should allocate emergency funds to anticipate the risk of foot-and-mouth disease carried by Brazilian beef. “Allocating emergency funds is important if the government is insisting on opening beef trading with Brazil,” he said.

Domestically produced medium-quality beef costs about Rp 55,000 ($4.6) a kilogram, while imported beef can be more expensive. The government aims to reduce beef prices by adding import volume to increase local consumption, which remains low.

According to the Indonesian Meat Importers Association, or Aspidi, per-capita consumption in the country is 1.7 kilograms of beef per year. By comparison, Australians consume 35 kilograms per-capita and Brazilians eat 75 kilograms.

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