Cassava farmers in Lampung are reaping the benefits of bioethanol factories springing up in the area, The Jakarta Post reported.
Bioethanol refineries, including PT Medco Energy, PT Acida Tama, PT Madusari Lampung Indah (MLI) and PT Sungai Budi, have flourished in the area, lifting production capacity to between 180,000 liters and 60 million liters annually.
Thanks to their presence, the production of cassava has surged significantly. In June, the price of cassava at the farmer level reached Rp500 per kilogram, compared to between Rp150 to Rp200 per kilogram previously.
The only company obtaining its supplies of cassava from farmers earlier was PT Sungai Budi, the biggest tapioca flour mill in Lampung.
"Growing cassava now is more lucrative than coffee or oil palm. A number of oil palm farmers have replaced their crops with cassava now," said a farmer in Tulangbawang, Ferdi Gunsan.
With a production capacity of 50 million liters of ethanol annually, MLI is currently operating around 1,600 hectares of cassava farms. It aims to manage 4,000 hectares of cassava farms by extending the partnership system to farmers in East and South Lampung.
To meet supply needs, MLI needs at least 4,000 hectares of cassava farms yielding between 60 to 100 tons per hectare, the company said.
While the main cassava farming area in Lampung spans an area of 3,000 hectares, other farms are spread throughout Southeast Sulawesi and Java, while farms cover less than 1,000 hectares.