INDONESIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTRY: Indonesia has succeeded in achieving self-sufficiency in corn

INDONESIAN AGRICULTURE MINISTRY: Indonesia has succeeded in achieving self-sufficiency in corn - The Agriculture Ministry said Indonesia has succeeded in achieving self-sufficiency in corn as domestic production has reached 90 percent of domestic demand. 

“We have become self-sufficient in corn and have also begun exporting the product. However, it does not mean that imports have stopped. But domestic production now meets 90 percent of national demand. In 2008 we also exported corn,” the ministry’s director general of food crops, Sutarto Alimoeso said as quoted by Antara. In 2008 Indonesia imported 170,000 tons of corn and exported 150,000 tons. 

He said exports could still increase. For this year the production target had been set around 18 million tons of which one million tons would be exported. The agriculture ministry was expecting domestic corn production to increase 14 percent this year. National corn production in 2008 rose more than 22 percent from 16.3 million tons in 2007. He said the corn plantation area was increasing while productivity was also rising following the use of superior seeds. Alimoeso said the government was subsidizing seed prices for rice, corn and bean farmers. Besides seed subsidy the government was also helping farmers to get superior seeds and seeds taken from national reserves.

A senior official at the Ministry of Agriculture says new regulations have been drafted to open Indonesia’s market to beef imports from countries with foot-and-mouth disease. To date, such imports have been prohibited, leaving Indonesia reliant on beef from Australia and New Zealand to make up for domestic production shortfalls.

Under the new regulations, restrictions will only be imposed on imports from those regions of a country in which foot-and-mouth is endemic, rather than being applied to the whole country, as is currently the case with Brazil and India.

However, Tjeppy Soedjana, the director general of livestock, said that the door would not be immediately flung open to beef imports because there were a number of processes that had to be completed in order to guarantee the safety of the beef.

The first stage, he said, would be an audit of the country of origin and its slaughterhouses. The audit team would consist of officers from the Directorate General of Livestock, who would check animal health, and the Indonesian Council of Ulema, or MUI, who would verify the halal status of the beef.

Tjeppy said that if a country passes the audit, the government would then issue registration numbers to approved slaughterhouses.On Jan. 9, the government told the World Trade Organization that Indonesia intended to change its regulations on the importation of beef from countries with foot-and-mouth disease. The new rules were drafted in the face of bitter protests from beef industry players, including the Indonesian Beef Importers Association, or Aspidi.

Thomas Sembiring, chairman of Aspidi, said earlier that expanding the number of countries from which imports could be sourced would not make beef more affordable to the public, as the government claimed.Separately, the Indonesian Meat Producers and Feedlot Association, or Apfindo, said that the dangers of foot-and-mouth disease being brought into Indonesia through infected beef was too real to allow the proposal to be accepted.

Indonesia aims to achieve self-sufficiency in beef by the end of 2010 even as its beef imports continue to rise.

TWO districts in South Jakarta, Kecamatan Pesanggrahan and Kebayoran Lama, have been declared "Red Zones" for avian influenza, according to a news report. "It means that this area is susceptible to bird flu spreading," said head of the Livestock and Fishery Service, South Jakarta, Chaidir Taufik, after his team had finished a fowl depopulation measure March 25. The Livestock and Fishery Service of South Jakarta culled about 1,322 fowls from 10 districts in South Jakarta in response to the deaths of two human AI victims in February and March this year.

INDONESIA and Malaysia will explore cooperation in agriculture. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the matter was among the areas of cooperation in discussion at the meeting between the visiting Malaysian delegation led by him and the Indonesian delegation headed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono last month.

The prime minister said "We also discussed cooperation in the oil palm sector as Malaysia and Indonesia produce almost 90 per cent of the world's palm oil requirement," he said, adding that a new area of cooperation was the setting up of more palm oil refineries in Indonesia. "This is to enable Indonesia to export more processed palm oil instead of crude palm oil, while strategic industrial planning by both countries would determine the stock levels, and enhance R&D and oil palm replanting."

Also touched on at the bilateral meeting participated by seven Malaysian cabinet ministers, was cooperation in the area of food security, whereby Malaysia could by rice from Indonesia if required and if Indonesia has surplus production.

On agriculture, Najib said discussed was that Malaysia, in its effort to reduce agriculture input costs, could buy products made from maize produced by Indonesia, considering the high price of livestock feed in Malaysia.

Asked about his views on Malaysia-Indonesia bilateral relations, Najib said currently it was very good, warm and friendly, whether at the top official level or at the personal level of those with the political will to resolve issues.

"With such good relations, I believe there no problems too big to be resolved amicably through discussions in the spirit of brotherhood," he said.

The prime minister said in his meetings with the Speakers of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR) and the People's Consultative Assembly MPR), they too spoke about strengthening cooperation and viewed positively the strong foundation and future of the bilateral ties.

INDONESIA, the largest US export market for soybeans in Southeast Asia, is likely to increase purchases of the beans this year, a US executive said, despite an overall decline in demand in Southeast Asia predicted at as much as 10 percent.

The country’s slowing economy may boost spending on tofu and tempe, made from fermented soybeans and used as a meat substitute, the American Soybean Association’s regional director, John Lindblom, said as quoted by Bloomberg last month.

The American Soybean Association represents 22,000 soybean farmers in the United States. “We’re selling a lot of soybeans in Indonesia,” Lindblom said. “This economic crisis must be hurting them. When the economy is good again, they’ll probably switch back to meat.”

Indonesia’s use of soybeans as a meat substitute goes against the overall trend in Southeast Asia, where the beans are used more for livestock feed, he said. For this reason, demand for soybean meal in the region is expected to decline by as much as 10 percent as people seek to replace meat in their diet and lack of credit hurts small livestock farmers and feed millers, Lindblom said.

Use of the meal as an ingredient in feed for pigs, poultry and shrimp, may drop from 9.5 million metric tons last year, Lindblom said. “A lot of the smaller feed millers, small pig and poultry farmers in the Philippines and Thailand couldn’t compete because of the high prices,” he said. Borrowing costs surged after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed in September, prompting some banks to hoard cash and choking off lending to small feed millers and livestock farmers.

“Since last year, a lot of exporters were already starting to be more selective of their customers, taking a closer look at their credit worthiness,” Lindblom said. Soybean meal futures declined 11 percent in Chicago in the past year.

WITH the fertilizer industry falling far short of growing demand, the Ministry of Industry called on producers to increase the quality and quantity of their products, even as farmers’ associations retorted that their efforts were being hampered by rampant smuggling with a lack of government oversight.

Demand for fertilizer will this year reach more than seven million tons, but actual production has averaged at only about six million tons, according to data from the Agriculture Ministry. The ministry wants producers to expand production capacity to 7.87 million tons per year, up from the existing capacity to produce 5.9 million tons of fertilizer, Benny Wachyudi, director general of agribusiness and chemical manufacturers at the Agriculture Ministry said.

“We still need about 1.1 million tons to meet the target of seven million tons of production, which will be met, among other ways, by modernizing some old fertilizer factories to make the industry more productive and efficient,” he said.

Of the fertilizer to be produced, 5.5 million tons will be provided at a subsidized rate to farmers, with the remainder being distributed commercially, Benny said. He added that the ministry remained optimistic that its seven-million-ton target was achievable. PT Pupuk Iskandar Muda in Aceh Province and other fertilizer producers have resumed operations recently in order to meet domestic demand.

The government will also seek to ensure fertilizer quality by marking some imported and locally produced urea fertilizers with quality standards labels. Benny said this would also help prevent uncontrollable fertilizer distribution or unfair fertilizer trading.

Importers and local producers will also have to obtain certificates specifying that they have implemented the national quality standard, or SNI, Benny said. The standard will go into effect in August, six months after the Ministry of Industry issued a decree regarding quality standards for varieties of urea, NPK, super phosphate, triple-super phosphate and natural phosphate fertilizers.

The government has said it was cracking down on unfair business practices and irregularities in the distribution of fertilizers, which, according to the Agriculture Ministry, have caused shortages in regions like Java.

Many of the country’s small farmers still face a lack of urea fertilizer, despite the government regularly subsidizing production by providing cheap gas to state-owned fertilizer factories, and then setting maximum retail prices, the ministry said.

But several farmers associations have repeatedly claimed that fertilizer scarcity has been caused by a lack of government oversight regarding distribution, as well as the smuggling of cheap Indonesian fertilizer overseas. The practice of repackaging subsidized fertilizer, to be illegally sold as nonsubsidized fertilizer on the local market or smuggled overseas, is rampant, the associations claim.

Rahmat Pambudy, deputy chairman of the Indonesian Farmers Association or HKTI, earlier called on the government to urgently increase fertilizer production and sort out the distribution system. With supply inadequate to meet demand, Rahmat said, speculators were able to profit by buying fertilizer and then selling it at inflated prices. Subsidized fertilizer, he added, was being illegally sold on a large scale to commercial farmers and plantations.

“Though the government has said it is working to increase production, farmers tell us they are still having difficulty getting subsidized fertilizer sold through the authorized distributors appointed by the government,” he said. “If the supply of fertilizer from local producers is insufficient, then there is no option but to import it.”

This year, the government plans to distribute 5.5 million tons of subsidized urea fertilizer — the most commonly used type in Indonesia — to small farmer

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