Thursday, 28 February 2013


So far development of plantation at nation­al scale had always been confined to palm, rubber, cacao and sugar, end yet regional wise many other commodities were motoring people’s economy. M Syekir, Head of Plantation Research Center, Board of Agricultural R&D made this statement.

Therefore the Puslitbun R&D Center would never cease to conduct research on coconut, sugar palm, areca nut etc. “In the past we never had the mandate to research coconut palm, rubber, sugar­cane, cacao, coffee as there was other institution having the mandate i.e. the Indonesian Plantation Re­search Center which was a BUMN State Owned Company belonging to PTPN. But after LRPI changed name into PT Nusantara Plantation Research and changed status into subsidiary company of BUMN We had the new mandate to survey commodities surveyed by RPN. Nevertheless we ignore the com­modity which we had been surveying” Syakir was quoted as saying.

Admittedly there had been many commodi­ties being ignored. Other Palma Research Center for example so far had produced 11 premium varieties of coconuts while other species of Palma were non existent.

Surprisingly Sugar Palm also had high economic potential. In palm plantation zones i.e. East Kutai, East Kalimantan there were farmers who were prosperous without having to plant coconut palm. They planted sugar palm. Demand for sugar palm was lately extremely high to meet the need of ketch-up factories. Now ketchup factories were having difficulty in obtaining sugar palm. Sugar palm trees were growing as tall as 10 meters so growers were having difficulty in tapping sugar essence of sugar palm.

Sugar palm of East Kutai were only 3 meters high while production was high. Beside at the age of 5 years the essence could be tapped. Therefore sugar palm of East Kutai were used as premium variety of sugar palm. After sugar palm was verified as premium variety, farmers, whose trees were stipulated as mother trees now changed into seed producers. Many investors were interested in opening sugar palm plantation to meet the need of ketchup factories. As shorter period of harvesting was not possible the choice was on sugar palm from East Kutai. Today demand for sugar palm seed from Riau and North Sumatra to East Kutai was high. In times when price of palm was down as it was now, it was strongly felt that economy in palm centers like Riau and North Sumatera was losing steam, but in Jambi the weakness was not too strongly felt.

It turned out that cause was Areca nut.

Many farmers in Jambi were growing Areca nut as bush-fence or just plant them in the back­yard. Today demand for Areca palm from India, Malaysia and Thailand were extremely high. The regency of Tanjung Jabung every week exported dry Areca seeds as mony as 50 containers to the three coun­tries. Tanjung Jabung Timur was Areca nut marketing center for the surrounding regencies.

The price of fresh plumes of palm today was Rp900/kg against the previous Rp1,500 whilst price of Areca nut was Rp4,000 against the previous Rp2,000/kg. “Areca nut had been most supportive to palm-growers’ economy in Jambi” he said.

Pursuant to that matter the R&D Center had proposed Tanjung Jabung Timur as national premium variety. The national Seed Board had agreed to the proposal and still waiting for the Ministerial Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture. Other commodities being the center of attention was clove. Whatever people’s perception of the cigarette industry, it was undeniable that the contribution to national economy was high, hence clove had become one of the most important commodity. The Gorontalo clove today was the best of cloves and during harvest time big cigarette companies like Gudang Garam, Djerurn and Sampoerna were rushing tg get their share.

Very often Sampoerna missed their share so they bought clove seeds from growers and sprees them out to other regencies. As there was no rule of the Ministry of Agriculture which regulated transactions were regarded as illegal. To melee it legal the R&D had recommended premium variety from Gorontalo. It was approved by the National Seed Board and now still waiting from Ministerial Decree.  

Business New - November 14, 2012 

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