Business

Indonesia pledges to
`feed the world'

Indonesia has reiterated its commitment to becoming a major global food producer by boosting the production of 15 key food commodities.

Fransiscus Wilerang, head of the Permanent Committee for Food Resilience at the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said Friday that the successful implementation of the program could contribute at least US$101.5 billion to the country's revenues for the 2010-2014 period.

The 15 food commodities, Fransiscus said, included four "strategic" ones - rice, corn, sugar and soybeans - and six "key" commodities, consisting of palm oil, tea, coffee, cocoa, tuna and shrimp.

Other categories are "nutritious" (beef and poultry), and "local popular" products (mangos, bananas and oranges).

The 10 strategic and key commodities are part of the government's 2009-2014 road map for food development.

The plan aims to, among others, allow domestic crude palm oil (CPO) producers to expand their plantations from the total 7.9 million hectares as of the end of 2009, to 9.7 million hectares by 2015.

The expansion is expected to help boost CPO production to 36.6 million tons.

Production of another key crop, coffee, is expected to reach 737,000 tons this year, or 142 percent more than domestic consumption.

Under the road map, the 433,000-ton surplus will be exported.

Coffee exports are expected to increase by 4.69 percent annually until 2020, when 636,000 tons of the total production of 973,000 tons is expected to be exported.

"Considering Indonesia's potential to achieve food self-sufficiency, we have to see the global food crisis as an opportunity and participate in efforts to supply food for the world," Fransiscus told hundreds of participants at the "Feed the World" seminar, organized by Kadin.

"We've agreed to develop the idea into a concept of food self-sufficiency and supply food for the world, or *Feed the World'."

At a press conference after the seminar, Kadin deputy chairman Franky Widjaja said the revenue from the 15 commodities could amount to $101.5 billion.

"If we manage to promote this at the downstream level in the next five years, this could more than just a dream," he said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who officiated the seminar and subsequent expo, said it was important for Indonesia to help address the world's food security issues, pointing out the consequences for not doing so could include the incitement of conflicts, as with water or energy issues.

He said to help achieve the "Feed the World" goal, the government would continue the first wave of its farming, plantation and fishery revitalization programs, lasting from 2004 to 2009, with the second phase set for the next five years.

Yudhoyono added that while Indonesia needed to maintain self-sufficiency in rice and corn production, it needed to achieve the same self-sufficiency in sugar production while reducing its dependence on imported soybeans.

He also reminded businesses not to neglect demand from the domestic market for the sake of more lucrative markets overseas.

"Why feed the world if we still have problems with food supplies and price instability at home," he said.

"The program **Feed the World'* should be understood as *Feed Indonesia, then feed the world'."

Investment Coordinating Board chairman Gita Wirjawan told The Jakarta Post on Thursday that the government would categorize main staple foods such as rice and corn among the types of commodities that foreign interests would be restricted from investing in.

"These commodities are key to our national security, so it is within our interests to protect them," he said.

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