The Government in this case the Ministry of Agriculture reminded that the palm estate were also thinking about food production one of the ways was to build food gardens in some part of the palm plantation area.
The Minister of Agriculture Suswono admitted he was somehow worried about the expansion of palm plantations in large scale which caused change of productive land function especially outside Java where palm plantations were at large. Moreover if selling price of palm were more attractive that other commodities like food; palm growers were more advantaged than rice growers.
The Government asked palm growers to reconsider their plan to expand palm plantations. Not just that, the Government was expecting business players to have their commitment to secure productive food gardens to anticipate food crisis. Even in every palm plantation higher had to be a belt zone for food plantation.
To the Government this case was important to anticipate food crisis. Because in case of food crisis the domestic condition would be safer. It was about time that palm companies reconsider large scale expansion.
“What worries me now is that many productive agricultural land were changing function into palm estates. I expect palm growers to have their good intention to spare part of their land for food gardens for national food resiliency”. Minister Suswono remarked.
Beside helping the nation to increase food production, the Government was also expecting palm estate companies to contribute to increasing meat production. The solution was by integrating palm estates with livestock rearing. The formulae was that if every 1 hectare of palm plantation included rearing of 2 cows, in a palm estate of 8 hectare there would be 16 million cows being reared. “This is an enormous amount. Indonesia could easily attain self sufficiency in meat” Minister Suswono said.
Therefore, although the potential of palm industry in Indonesia was high, the Government pled palm estate operators to focus more on increasing productivity. Today, the average production output of people’s palm plantation was only 3 tons/hectare yet the potential output might reach 7 tons/hectare.
“This is homework for the Government, how to ask palm growers to approach the private party to increase productivity, because the remaining land could still be increased of their productivity”.
Compared to Malaysia which was also a great producer of palm, Indonesia’s palm production output was way below. If Indonesia’s production output was equal to Malaysia, Indonesia’s total production output could be doubled.
This was what the Government encouraged so palm estates could participate in the effort to promote people’s plantation through development of plasma plantation. If people’s plantation was developing well, equal distribution of economy could run well and eventually improved people's welfare.
The potential land to be developed for palm estates in Indonesia was posted at 18 million ha. Today there was already permit being issued for palm estates totaling 9.8 million hectares, but the part being tapped was only around 8.9 million ha. Hence there was still the potential of 1 million ha not being used. “If plantation productivity could be increased to 5 tons only, Indonesia’s palm procuction output could be more than 45 million tons”.
Business News - December 7, 2012