The Department of Agriculture was probing the possibility of French fries development in various potato centers in Indonesia. So far the need for potatoes used in fast food restaurants had to be imported from Canada, the USA, and Australia.
Achmad Dimyatie, the Director General of Horticulture disclosed this to Business News in Jakarta Tuesday [21/14].
Presently the Government was planning to import potato seeds which would be planted in Indonesia. It was expected that with the nursery of those potato seeds, Indonesia would be self sustaining. “The development of French fries industry is being pioneered. This very year we would begin adaptation plans and feasibility study for production”.
If all goes well this year, by 2010 it would have been known which region were worthy of being cultivated for potato plantation. Feasibility studies and experiments for adaptations would be carried out at the Kerinci Regency in the Province of Jambi and the Regency of Modoinding, North Sulawesi.
The said regions were not highly potential for potato plantation developments, but also safe in terms of environmental conservation. Some areas in Indonesia were centers of potato plantations but the condition were not safe for the environment.
The Regency of Modoinding of South Sulawesi had the potential of 10.000 ha and the Kerinci Regency were around 3.500 ha. This area were safe in terms of soil conservation because the land surface were flat at the altitude of 1.500 meter above sea level.
For the development of French fries, the Government encouraged businesspeople to collaborate with counterparts from Australia, Canada and the USA. In seeds procurements. Presently the import of potatoes especially French fries were estimated at around 48.02 tons or worth USD 33.14 million.
In the development of imported potatoes, Indonesia had an experience in the adoption of potato chips. Formerly, to fulfill the need for potato chips the product had to be imported, but since 2003 the Government attempted to pioneer the development of potato chips in certain regions. While trying to test fertility locations, it was concluded that potatoes for chips were cultivable in Indonesia. Now there were even potato chips of Indonesian origin, i.e. the Margahayu variety.
The development of potato chips raw materials were now being carriedout by PT Indofood Fritolay Makmur in partnership with potato farmers in Garut, Bandung, Wonosobo, Pemalang, Mondoinding [South Minahasa] and the Regency of Kerinci.
Presently there was a shortage of fried potatoes and potato chips in Indonesia. In terms of consumers potatoes, Indonesia was somehow self-sustaining for the most part the total production on national potatoes, which amounted to 1 million tons were consumers potatoes.
In this case Indonesia was able even to export potatoes to some countries like Malaysia and Singapore. This year the export target of consumer potatoes was around 139.96 thousand tons or worth USD 16.4 million. On the other hand however, Indonesia still had to import around 48 thousand tons of potatoes worth USD 33 million.
Business News record had it that nearly 90% of potatoes planted in Indonesia were of the Granola variety. Some of the plus points of this potato variety were: notably high yields [around 20 tons/ha], short-lived and highly adaptive. However this type of potatoes were not really suitable as raw materials for fried potatoes or chips, which required a high standard of density.