January 26, 2004
Gorontalo Takes Lead In Building Indonesian Corn Belt
The Gorontalo provincial administration in Sulawesi, Indonesia has called other provinces on the island to build the Celebes Corn Belt to meet increasing international demand for corn.
"Gorontalo itself is now trying hard to meet demands for corn from Korea, therefore we are inviting the neighbouring provinces to supply the commodity," Gorontalo Governor Fadel Muhammad told a meeting with the press at his residence.
Flanked by Gorontalo administration's agricultural division chief Dr. Ir. Djamaluddin, Fadel said by the end of 2003 he had already signed a contract with a South Korean buyer of one ton of corn for 2004.
However, he said Gorontalo would not be able to meet the demand all by itself, since the corn production of Gorontalo in 2003 reached only 160,000 tons, and in 2004 it has been estimated that the production could be increased to only 200,000 tons.
"This means that we still 800,000 tons short in meeting the Korean demand, therefore I am offering this opportunity to Southeast Sulawesi, North Sulawesi, South Sulawesi and Central Sulawesi in meeting the demand," said Fadel, who also happened to be the head of the Sulawesi Regional Development Cooperation Agency (BKPRS).
Corn exports, he said, have good prospects, as the price of the commodity has reached US$110 to US$115 per ton, and is even predicted to reach US$140 per ton.
The export of the commodity is widely open, as China, a leading corn producer in Asia, has stopped exporting the commodity as it is now focusing its corn supplies on its domestic market.
The other countries where the export market is still open to corn, he added, included Malaysia. Gorontalo in 2003 had exported 20,000 tons of corn to Malaysia at an average of US$110 per ton.
Meanwhile, director of PT.Brain Niaga Semesta (BNS) Isra M. Thahir said Korea was planning an investment in Gorontalo for the development of corn, mainly to help local farmers boost their productivity and improve land processing.
In 2004, a Korean company in association with BNS will invest at least Rp3 billion in the procurement of mechanical equipment and tools for land processing in Gorontalo.
This mechanization has already been started on 50 ha of land which will be expanded to 300 ha, he said.
He said the mechanization would not only boost productivity and production efficiency cost, but guarantee the quality of the results as well.
This company also plans to build storage facilities to meet export standards and maintain quality before shipment to the countries of destination, he said.
Now that the basic price of corn stands at Rp700/kg as set by the Gorontalo provincial administration, the value-added derived by the growers will reach only Rp200/kg, but through the mechanization, the value-added could be raised up to two times, raising the living standard of the growers.
The average productivity of corn farmland in Gorontalo currently reached only three to four tons of local corn seeds, but under the agropolitan program currently being developed, productivity may reach six to seven tons/ha, and up to 11 tons of hybrid seeds/ha.