Friday, 14 November, 2008 | 21:10 WIB
TEMPO Interactive, Palembang:The South Sumatra administration has prepared three scenarios to rescue palm oil and rubber farmers devastated by the impact of the global economic crisis.
South Sumatra governor Alex Noerdin said the three scenarios were projects involving palm oil and rubber farmers, business loans without collateral and subsidies for rice, fertilizers and pesticides.
"I am now formulating the implementation of the three scenarios," said Alex in Palembang yesterday. Alex has asked all parties to be patient, given that he has only been governor of South Sumatra for only a few days.
Musirawas regent Ridwan Mukti has sent the governor and the central government a letter asking that the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) carry out an inspection of rice markets in his region, especially those serving consumers working at rubber and palm oil plantations.
"A while ago the price of one kilo of rubber was the same as two to three kilos of rice, and now a kilo of rubber is not worth a kilo of rice," Ridwan said. He has asked Bulog to sell rice at the same price as the rubber.
Thousands of palm oil and rubber farmers have been depressed over the global economic crisis for the past two months, which has caused palm oil prices to plunge from Rp 1.800 per kilogram to Rp 200. Farmers chose to neglect their palm oil plants, resulting in poverty and even leading to mental illness and suicide attempts.
The Jambi administration is also preparing a number of scenarios. According to Jambi governor Zulkifli Nurdin, one of the measures was to subsidize food by providing rice for the poor.
The step was taken after palm oil businessmen were unable to comply with a government circular that required them to buy the farmers' product at Rp 890 per kilogram.
"I saw for myself the condition of palm oil plants, they are in trouble, too. The raw material they buy from farmers now exceed the producing capacity," Zulkifli said.
Arif Ardiansyah | SYAIPUL BAKHORI