Indonesia is one of the focuses of Monsanto in addition to Brazil to implement sustainable agriculture. The challenge now is how to increase production while preserving the environment. Gabriela Burian, Director of Sustainable Agriculture Ecosystems at Monsanto, stated this on Friday (5/17).
Monsanto has been engaged in four commodities such as corn, soybeans, cotton and canola. In Indonesia, Monsanto is focused on hybrid corn, and if the license is already issued, herbicide-resistant transgenic maize.
According to Gabriela, for 2030 Monsanto sets increase of production by 2-fold; reduction of inputs like water, fertilizers, pesticides up to a third; and increase of farmers’ income.
With breeding and biotechnology, it is expected to produce high-productivity plants. With high productivity, the amount of forest cleared will be reduced and biodiversity is also maintained.
“In line with the increase in the global population which is estimated to reach 7 billion people this year and 2 billion by 2050, the amount of food that must be provided also increases”, he said.
Economic growth also led to the increasing consumption of protein such as meat and milk. Demand for animal feed is increasing, and fodder needs now reached 2,673 million tons of grains and oil seeds. If calculated based on yield of developing countries, total area required is 889 million hectares.
Globally, Monsanto established partnerships for sustainable agricultural practices. In the United States, it joined the field to Market Initiative, Share Program in India, WEMA in Africa, and Corn Master Project in Mexico.
“In Indonesia, we do not just want to partner, but to contribute to agriculture in here”, he said.
Herry Kristanto, Corporate Affairs Lead at Monsanto Indonesia, said that today in Indonesia, Monsanto has a hybrid maize seed factory with 13,500 tons capacity. The corn seeds are produced by 30,000 corn farmers spreading across East Java and Central Java with a total planting area of 7,000 hectares.
“We have no land for production; we only have a few acres of land specifically for research, while the production 100% comes from farmers. We are not the same as plasma core system in the plantations because the core has the land”. He said.
Seed-corn farmer is different from production –corn farmer; there are a few things to do such as artificial insemination, castration and others. Seed-producing farmers are intensively coached by Monsanto.
The advantage of being a seed-producing farmer is assured market and fixed price, and the products would be purchased by Monsanto with a predetermined price. This is different from production-corn farmers who after harvest face uncertainty of market and prices.
Monsanto hybrid corn seed plant in Indonesia is one of the most advanced factories in Southeast Asia who applies the latest technology. Other than the domestic markets, the corn is also exported to Vietnam and Thailand at around 3,000 – 4,000 tons/year.
If transgenic corn has been allowed, then the open market is the Philippines with 16,000 ton needs. “The Philippines” demand far exceeds our production capacity. Because it is not just Monsanto who exploits the market other companies as well “, he said.
To meet the needs of the Philippines, then definitely there will be additional plant capacity, number of seed-producing farmers also grew to 60,000 people. “Fostering such a large number of farmers is not easy, but it must be done”, he said.
So far there is a misconception that transgenic maize seeds will be imported from other countries, in fact if the license is issued, it will be produced locally by farmers.
In the Philippines, it takes 3 – 5 months to understand the transgenic maize. In Indonesia, from 4 million ha area planted with corn, there are 2 millions who are using hybrid corn seeds. If the transgenic corn seed has been released, there is an estimated 1 million hectare of land owned by advanced farmers who planted transgenic corn.
The transgenic maize proposed by Monsato in Indonesia is glyphosate herbicide-resistant corn. If the corn has a lot of weeds, although the young corn can be sprayed with glyphosate herbicide where the weeds die and the corn lives.
From the production aspect, this corn is the same as hybrid corn. But when put into practice, the yield would be higher. Currently, of the potential yield of 12 ton/ha, farmers are able to produce 8ton/ha. With transgenic corn, it may reach 10ton/ha due to reduced competition with weeds. (E)
Business News - May 22,2013