The Jakarta Post
North Sumatra has suffered a sharp decline in its cabbage exports over the past two years, but is trying to revive exports of the produce with assistance from the Agriculture Ministry and the provincial administration.
Ali Jamil, the head of the ministry’s Agriculture Quarantine Agency (Barantan), recently said the agency had been providing technical assistance to farmers since early this year to meet the tightened export requirements of destination countries.
He said the province's cabbage exports had declined sharply over the last two years because the frequent eruptions of Mount Sinabung had affected the produce's quality. At the same time, major importers like Japan, South Korea and Singapore had tightened their requirements for imported agricultural products.
North Sumatra also exports cabbage to Taiwan and Malaysia.
The ministry recorded a steady increase in the province’s cabbage exports from 11,747 tons in 2012, worth Rp 35 billion (US$2.45 million) to 32,680 tons in 2016, worth Rp 98 billion.
However, cabbage exports then plunged to 18,459 tons (Rp 55 billion) in 2017 and to 15,228 tons (Rp 46 billion) in 2018.
North Sumatra shipped 50.2 tons of cabbage in February to Malaysia through Medan's Belawan Port. The province also exported 19 other products with a total value of Rp 272 billion, including 13,620 tons of crude palm oil, 789 tons of coffee beans, 208 tons of pine sap, 125 tons of cinnamon and 1.5 tons of areca nuts.
Jamil said Barantan had applied pest management and conducted "in-line inspections" from planting to post-harvest processing of cabbage, including transporting.
"We expect these activities to help improve the quality of North Sumatra's cabbage and in turn, will help revive its exports," he said.
North Sumatra Governor Edy Rahmayadi said that his administration was considering plans to build cold storage facilities to maintain the quality of the province's commodities.
Because North Sumatra’s Karo regency was a major producer of several commodities, Edy said he had suggested Karo Regent Terkelin Brahmanan to aid farmers in improving productivity and exports, such as by establishing cooperatives.
"This way, farmers will not suffer from declines in commodity prices during harvests due to the manipulation of middlemen or traders,” he said. “Hopefully, this will also improve North Sumatra's commodity exports, including cabbage, carrots and potatoes."
Despite the decline in cabbage exports, North Sumatra saw a 7.3 percent year-on-year (yoy) growth in its agricultural commodity exports from $654 million in 2017 to $702 million in 2018, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS).
However, the province saw a 5.7 percent decline in industrial exports from $8.08 billion in 2017 to $8.57 billion in 2018, which caused an overall 4.77 percent decline in its exports from $9.22 billion in 2017 to $8.78 billion in 2018. (ars)