RI moves to raise coffee

Indonesia has the second largest area of coffee plantations in the world but due to low yields it only ends up as the fifth largest producer after Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, and India, a researcher said.

Surip Mawardi, a researcher from the Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute (ICCRI), said last week that Indonesia’s coffee plantation area totaled 1.3 million hectares but its production was still less than 700 kilograms per hectare per year.

“It’s very low compared to Vietnam’s annual production of 1,540 kilograms per hectare, Colombia’s 1,220 kilograms, and Brazil’s 1,000 kilograms.

“That’s why Vietnam is up from fifth largest producer to second largest, while Indonesia is down to fifth from third largest producer in the world,” he said.

Surip was speaking to the press after addressing a seminar on Indonesian coffee development, which was organized by PT. Nestle Indonesia, the subsidiary of Nestle S.A. the world’s leading producer of food and beverages.

Latest Agriculture Ministry data shows that Brazil, with a total area under coffee plantations of 2.37 million hectares has a total production of 2.02 million tons per year, Colombia with 560,000 hectares produces 744,000 tons per year, Vietnam with 491,800 hectares produces 1.05 million tons per year, while India with 328,000 hectares has an annual production of 507,000 tons.

“It’s because these countries adopted best farming practices with advanced agricultural technology. But we in Indonesia are yet to apply such technology to all of our coffee farmers.

“Most of our farmers are not yet aware of the importance of having good seedlings for their plantations,” he noted.

To address the problem, Achmad Manggabarani, the ministry’s director general of plantations, said in the same seminar that the government was pursuing efforts to promote the use of so-called Somatic Embryogenesis (SE) techniques among Indonesian coffee farmers and urged them to use plantlets and seedlings developed this way.

He said that the application of the SE technique had been pursued in cooperation with ICCRI, a state-owned agricultural research institute under the ministry of agriculture, and Nestle Indonesia — the largest buyers of coffee beans in Indonesia, with total annual purchases of about 70,000 tons of coffee per year, mostly from plantations in Sumatra.

Nestle claims to be the first corporation in the world using SE techniques in coffee plantations.
The Nestle research and development center in Tours in France, has conducted a mapping of Indonesia’s coffee trees and had identified 33 elite types, of which six of the best are being evaluated.

The chosen elite plantlets, which will be used to produce coffee seedlings, will be multiplied using SE technique that can produce up to 22 million plantlets per year.

The SE project is expected improve the coffee farmers’ competitive advantage in the international market by helping them to grow the best strains of coffee plantlets.

“This year we’ve targeted that our farmers in Sumatra and Java will grow about one million of such seedlings.

“Until now we’ve managed to secure the planting of 500,000 seedlings. Next year we target the planting of four million seedlings, and then in 2011 six million seedlings,” Achmad said.

With every hectare being able to accommodate 1,300 seedlings, the area that had been planted with the new seedlings has now reached about 385 hectares.

He said that the government was serious in developing coffee plantations as coffee was one of the top commodities in the country.

Employing 2.3 million people across the archipelago, the coffee plantation sector contribution to foreign exchange has been increasing during the last four years from US$504.4 million in 2005, to $588.50 million in 2006, to $636.42 millions or 11.66 percent of total agricultural exports in 2007, to $991.46 million or 24 percent of total agricultural exports in 2008.

“The SE technique has been also successfully applied to our cocoa plantations. Such techniques can increase the coffee yield by more than 100 percent from the current yield of less than 700 kilograms per hectare per year.

“By applying this, we hope we can double our coffee production and income in the next five years,” he said.

This year we’ve targeted that our farmers in Sumatra and Java will grow about one million of such seedlings.

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