In Cirebon, the road to wealth may be paved with mangoes
Nana Rukmana and Hyginus Hardoyo
The Jakarta Post
As one of the three mango production centers in West Java, Cirebon regency is striving to tap its mango (and money) making potential, given rosy predictions for Indonesia’s agriculture and horticulture sectors.
Recording annual production that tops 60,000 tons, the Cirebon administration has plans to increase local production by expanding its mango groves under cultivation to 10,000 hectares within five years, an ambitious 334 percent increase over a current figure of 2,300 hectares.
Ali said that the regency wanted to ensure that upwards of 20,000 local farmers could find work cultivating mangoes.
“The expansion is considered urgent due to the substantial increase in demand for Cirebon mangoes,” Ali Effendi, the head of the Cirebon Agriculture, Plantation and Livestock Husbandry Office, said on Monday.
The most popular mango varieties produced in Cirebon are the gedong gincu and harum manis, according to Ali. “In a year, the total production of gedong gincu is around 40,000 tons, while the farmers produce 20,000 tons of harum manis. So, the production is still way behind our expectations,” Ali said.
Aside from meeting demand from the domestic market, mangoes from Cirebon have also been exported to meet demand overseas in Hong Kong, Kuwait, Malaysia, Russia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates, among other nations.
Although the regency may be focused on expanding its mango shipments to the international market, a report indicates that it may be better for the local administration and mango farmers to focus on the nation’s huge domestic market.
The McKinsey consulting group said in a recent report that the number of middle-class consumers in Indonesia will increase steadily, following economic growth and expanding urban areas.
Middle-class consumers are expected to increasingly diversify their food choices to include more fruits and vegetables, most of which are still dominated by imports.
In line with its plan for the rapid development of horticultural farming, it might be better for the Cirebon administration to seek ways to help farmers to sell to supermarkets, as farmers are frequently handicapped by extremely poor supply chains and logistics.
“Our shortcomings in producing mango involve inconsistency in meeting quality standards, including for exports,” Ali said.
He further said that in line with its plan to expand mango cultivation, officials would also continue to improve the skills and knowledge of local farmers in handling the mangoes.
The Cirebon administration, Ali said, has earmarked Rp 1 billion (US$103,810) to the procurement of quality mango seedlings.
“With this we hope that the quality of production will also increase,” he said.
Meanwhile, the head of the Cirebon chapter of the Mango Farmers Association, Khaerudin, said he fully supported the administration’s plan.
The association was ready to be involved in the expansion of mango plantations and improvement of farmers’ skills, he said.
“Out of 40 districts in Cirebon, only four are known as mango centers — Talun, Beber, Astanajapura and Losari,” Khaerudin said, adding that many of the other districts also had the potential for mango cultivation.
Khaerudin said he was optimistic that many farmers in Cirebon would be able to improve their welfare if the administration’s plan succeeded.
Planting mangoes is as a good opportunity to get additional income, aside from planting rice, Khaerudin added.
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