Wed, 09 Jul 2008
From: The Jakarta Post
By Novia D. Rulistia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Indonesia's cocoa production fell 7.6 percent to 480,000 tons in the first half of this year compared to in the same period last year due to failure to prevent pest attacks, an association says.

Halim Razak, chairman of Indonesia's Cocoa Producers Association (Askindo), said Monday the fungus and pest attacks should have been fairly easy to address had the farmers been trained in proper planting and pest control.

"The guidance they have received so far is still relatively small. The government still doesn't pay much attention to the importance of farmer training," Halim said.

He said at least 1,000 trainers were needed to supply knowledge to the farmers of the nation's 1 million hectares of cocoa plantations, as opposed to the less-than 100 trainers currently active.

Indonesia's cocoa yield rate currently averages 0.7 tons per hectare per year, lower than the widely-used standard of 2.5 tons per hectare per year, according to the association's data.

"In the coming years, it's likely the farmers will shift from planting cocoa to other commodities if this trend continues," he said, adding that Southeast Sulawesi was in danger of suffering pest attacks, as other plantations had been so ruined in the area.

Kompas reported earlier, citing Southeast Sulawesi's Agency of Farm and Horticulture, that thousands of hectares of cocoa plantations in Kolaka Utara regency were in danger of being destroyed by pest and fungus attacks.

According to the agency, Kolaka Utara has 45,000 hectares of cocoa plantations. The pest attacks have caused production in the regency to drop this year to just 100 kilograms per hectare per annum from between 1 and 1.5 tons per hectare per annum last year.

Sulawesi accounts for 50 percent of the country's total cocoa production.

The production decline means Indonesia is missing out on potential windfall revenues amid the high global price of the commodity, a result of high demand, Halim said.

Cocoa currently sells on the international market at Rp 26,000 (US$2.78) per kilogram.

Global demand for cocoa increased 3.5 percent last year, while supply rose 2.5 percent, he said.

Cocoa is the main raw material for chocolate, and according to Askindo, Indonesia's chocolate consumption stands at 0.6 kilograms per capita per year, compared to 16 kilograms per capita per year in Europe.

Indonesia is the world's third largest producer of cocoa beans, after the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

However, Indonesia's exports are not used in high-profile brands, including Cadbury of Britain and Hershey's of the U.S., despite those countries relying on imports.

Last year, Indonesia exported 300,000 tons of cocoa mostly to Malaysia, the United States and Brazil. In 2006, the country exported 490,000 tons.



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