Tue, 25 Oct 1994

Fruit body formed to boost industry

GRESIK, East Java (JP): Minister of Agriculture Sjarifuddin Baharsjah has recognized the newly-founded Indonesian Fruits Association (Himpunan Perbuahan Indonesia), which is expected to boost the country's fruit industry.

Established on Saturday by around 40 farmers, business persons, fruit experts, hobbyists and observers, the association seeks to preserve, develop and cultivate Indonesia's great varieties of fruits for economic, social and cultural reasons, a declaration on the group's establishment said.

"I support the establishment of this association because it is time to seriously enhance our fruit industry. I hope in this way we will not hear any more comments that our fruit is inferior to that of other Southeast Asian countries, particularly Thailand," the minister said on Saturday.

"Figures for fruit production and exports have never actually been very clear because it is difficult to know even the basic data such as the area planted with fruits," said Sutardi, an expert of the Getas research center in Salatiga, Central Java.

Indonesia's fruit exports increased almost fivefold from 17,142.3 tons valued at US$12.45 million in 1989 to 97,941.7 tons worth $62.16 million last year, but its fruit imports surged almost 15 fold from 4,920.1 tons worth $2.67 million to 74,358.8 tons worth $57.26 million.

Indonesia's share of the international tropical fruit market is currently a paltry 0.6 percent.

Director for Horticultural Development of the Ministry of Agriculture M. Winarno said that Indonesian fruits have great potential to be developed into a big industry, but the current fruit tree planting which is dominated by smallholders and farmers in limited areas, such as in the courtyards, should be first managed on the basis of economic scales.

"The economic scale of the horticultural development will need at least 500 hectares for each plantation area," he told The Jakarta Post.

To encourage the development of the fruit industry, more research centers will be set up at major production areas.(als)