Fri, 03 Dec 1999

Indonesia's maritime resources 'still underexploited'

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesia's huge maritime resources, especially in the eastern part of the country, remain under-exploited, a seaweed businessman told a seminar here on Thursday.

Chairman of the Bosowa group Aksa Mahmud told the seminar that seaweed cultivation was promising because it was labor-intensive and only needed simple technology.

"Therefore, seaweed is quite suitable and profitable for farmers as there is a strong demand for this commodity on the international market and it can be harvested after only 70 days," he said.

He said that with one kilogram of seaweed currently selling for Rp 4,000, compared to only Rp 1,800 for rice, the commodity could significantly raise farmers' incomes.

Aksa said his company, PT Bantimurung Indah, recently invested US$2 million to expand its seaweed processing facility in South Sulawesi from 300 tons to 1,000 tons a year.

"We collect raw seaweed from thousands of farmers and process it into a powder for export to Europe and other Asian countries."

Aksa said eastern Indonesia was the most favorable area for seaweed cultivation because its waters remained relatively clean, unlike the heavily polluted Java coastline.

"Seaweed is quite promising for export because the international demand, notably from cosmetic companies, has been rising steadily as more factories shift from chemicals to natural materials."

The demand has been so strong that his company's production for next year had already been snapped up by foreign buyers.

Another speaker at the seminar, executive director of the Indonesian Fisheries Federation Bambang Suboko, said that the country's fishery resources remained under-tapped. He said the annual catch was estimated at only 3.6 million metric tons, or only 57 percent of the potentially sustainable capacity.

Bambang said Indonesia could harvest 5 million tons of sea fish in a sustainable manner. (06)