Indonesia in Focus
Potato has Dim Future in Indonesia
With its high rate of growth, high yield and low water consumption, the potato has become the world’s fourth major food crop in the world, but its prospects in Indonesia face many challenges, a representative for Indonesia’s chapter of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says. While speaking at a seminar help by the UN’s FAO in Jakarta on Wednesday, ManHo So said certain challenges, related to the vegetable’s biology and planting requirements, had to be overcome to achieve its potential in the country.
Ahmad Dimyati, director general of horticulture for the ministry of agriculture, told the seminar plantation opportunities were limited by competition for land with newly-built residences and plantations of other crops of higher value, including flowers and fruits.
The government also discourages plantations on hillsides due to the risk of land erosion.
Total potato plantation area in the country dropped from 66,000 hectares in 2000 to 62,000 hectares in 2006, or less than 3 percent of the total area for rice paddy fields.
Indonesia produced 1 million tons of potatoes in 2006 with an average yield of 16.9 tons per hectare, but production performance has remained flat since 2000.
Indonesia’s per capita potatoes consumption is 1.66 kg per year, much lower than China’s 40 kg. China is the world’s largest producer, followed by Russia and India.
Indonesia has so far failed to capitalize on Asia’s growing processed potato market, especially for French fries and potato chips, because the suitable potato varieties are not grown in the country.
Indonesia imported 32,000 tons of potatoes in 2006, mainly for potato-based processed foods.
Although Ahmad said on average potato growers earned between Rp 15 million and 20 million per hectare, farmers remain reluctant to commit to the crop as selling prices are prone to large fluctuations.
Wildan Mustofa, operational manager of potato seed producer Hikmahfarm, said potato prices had fluctuated between Rp 2,000 and Rp 5,000 per kilogram every year over the past four years.
Article written by Mariani Dewi
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta – 22-05-08
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