Selasa, 29 Januari 2008

Rice, Hybrid Rice, National Production

RI fails to reach additional rice production target, Agri-Revit in a hot seat, hybrid rice comes again?

Edited by: Riza V. Tjahjadi, BioTani Indonesia

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the country had failed to reach its target of increasing rice production by 2 million tons in 2007. "We were only able to increase our rice production by 1.64 million tons, short of the targeted of 2 million. There were various impediments including the failure of some provinces to reach targets," the President told the press Tuesday after a cabinet session at the Agriculture Ministry.

One of the obstacles faced was the fear of making procedural errors which delayed the distribution of seeds to farmers. "But if the bureaucrats had clear programs and there was no intention to misappropriate the available funds, there was no need for hesitation," he said. (the Jakarta Post online 22 Jan 2008)

That just wasn’t going to happen..!

More funds spent in the name of Agriculture Revitalisation”, ironically, more staple food problems face by most middle to poor people, included farmers and small scale food producers as well as street vendors/sellers.

While many cafes like Starbucks and coffee Bean – both uses Sumatran and Jawa Arabica coffee - are enjoying an ever-increasing number of clients, paradoxically, Indonesia coffee production on a decline, apparently coffee farmers and exporters missing the high price momentum.

Coffee exporters (more than 350 groups) struggling to procure more coffee from Indonesia with international demand outweighing supply. The prices are good, but exporters can’t get enough, so they can’t sell much,” said executive secretary of the Association of Indonesian Coffee Exporters (JP, 21 Jan 2008). The main reason was production decline (18.1%) meanwhile domestic consumption increase. This situation predicted imported coffee will increase, most from Vietnam – “a country as student” of the Indonesian coffee growers around 13-14 years ago

Another tragic, if not tragedy, prices of soybeans, wheat flour, cocking oils, and kerosene scarcity hampering Indonesians since end of 2007. Small-scale producers of tempe and tahu (tempeh and tofu, foreigners name it) stop working for three days as boycott and make street rally protest to the President Palace. Even though Slamet, a street vendor for some fried foods made of soybean, banana, and cassava, has committed suicide, by hanging himself at his house, in Cidemang Village of Pandeglang Regency on 15 January 2008. His wife disclosed her husband deeply stress to situations: scarcity of kerosene, skyrocketing prices of soybean, wheat flour, cassava flour, tahu, tempe and cocking oil (Kompas 16 Jan 2008).

Back a decade ago, Indonesia enjoyed a high soybean output prior to the financial crisis of late 1997, when the country managed to at least balance the demand and supply of the commodity. However, after bowing to pressures from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, who demanded the country open up its trade sector in exchange for a huge financial bailout, local soybean production began to decline.

Following the assistance, cheaper or even underpriced soybeans from the U.S. began flooding the domestic market, trapping the nation from reaching the self-sufficiency long dreamed of by Yudhoyono. Vice President Jusuf Kalla threw in the towel even before putting up a fight, acknowledging it would be too much of a daunting task to boost local soybean production, as it would require huge incentives. "Farmers are only able to net a Rp 3.5-million profit per hectare of soybeans, whereas with corn they can net Rp 8 million. So it is difficult to increase the production of soybeans at home," he said Tuesday. (1US$ = Rp9.400)

Minister for Agriculture Anton Apriantono seemed to have no initiative at all in taking immediate action to address the problem faced by existing soybean farmers. The minister turned a blind eye toward the demands of a group of soybean farmers from East Java and the local administration back in June last year, when they complained of limited farmland and a lack of incentives. One of his staff members even commented that Anton preferred to help a group of farmers linked to his Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) over others (JP, 17 Jan 2008) – the general election will be in 2009.

Hybrid Rice, subsidy, tax exempt and ITK just instrument

As widely known, at the start of his presidential term four years ago, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono promised to put the agriculture sector at the top of his agenda with the aim of reaching self-sufficiency in producing strategic commodities.

A ceremony costing US$50,000 was even held in mid-2005 to promote his administration's seriousness to revitalize the sector, which is the income backbone for more than 70 million people living in rural areas around the country.

The state budget for agriculture, namely agriculture revitalisation, for 2007 fiscal year amounted Rp 8.2 trillions meanwhile the budget has allocated subsidy for high yield rice seed varieties amounted Rp 1.2 trillions (August 2007, 1 US$ = Rp 9.100) in pursuing additional target 2 million tons of milled-rice. A year before subsidy for rice seeds amounted Rp 80.9 millions. Total paddy production for 2007 targeted with amount 51.18 million tons meanwhile subsidy to imported hybrid rice seeds around 50% from total demand of hybrid rice seeds at amount 5,000 tons.

Moreover, massive imported hybrid rice has occurred according Prof. Bungaran Saragih, ex minister of agriculture due to such subsidy allocation. He added, such subsidy has also triggering an instant-type seed importer companies (Tani Merdeka, August 2007). More closer, according the director general food crops of ministry of agriculture Sutarto Alimoesa imported hybrid rice seeds was tax-exemption. According the chair of Asbenindo, the Indonesian seeds producers association, Elda Adiningrat, imported hybrid rice seeds only around 1,000 tons to 1,200 tons from China, India and the Philippines. Further she predicted total production of domestic hybrid rice seeds reached 3,000 tons to 4,000 tons.

Hybrid rice seed importer companies as far are: PT Sang Hyang Seri, PT Duppont, PT Sumber Alam Sutra, PT Triusaha Saritani, and PT Tri Bangun Pusaka.

Annual demand on rice seeds amounted 350,000 tons, meanwhile available supply only 120,000 tons came from the state-own company 100,000 tons, and private companies 20,000 tons. The rest of 230,000 tons produce by rice farmers – non-label rice seeds, as claimed by Soetarto Alimoeso, director general food crops of ministry of agriculture (Tani Merdeka, August 2007). This segment is market opportunity for marketing hybrid rice seeds meanwhile the ministry of agriculture has allocated 800,000 hectares for hybrid rice in 2007.

The minister of agriculture has released around 31 hybrid rice varieties: 6 varieties produced by the Indonesians rice breeders and the rest were an introduction-type of rice varieties (imported from other countries) in the least few years. According Ahmad Suryana, head of Badan Litbang Departemen Pertanian or the Agency for Agriculture Research and Development MoA in the last five years the Indonesian rice breeders have produced about 20 new rice varieties both hybrid rice and non-hybrid rice. However, last year plant breeders face serious problems when the state budget reduced allocation for travel in agriculture. The spearhead of research in agri-sector has no able to develop research optimally to produce high yielded crop varieties.

According the head of the agency for agriculture research and development (AARD) of Ministry of Agriculture, Ahmad Suryana on Sunday (09/12/2007) in Bogor, the reduction budget allocation for travel which reached around 70 percent since August 2007-12-10 impacted to crop multi-location trials. “Crop multi-location trials are very important as to gain yield stability and characteristic which claimed of a crop variety developed, because a crop variety is not developed for one region but to all region in Indonesia,” he said.

Budget allocation for agri-R&D amounted Rp 650 millions for 2007. According him, every crop variety should carry out multi-location trial in 20 different locations to represent Indonesia in two different seasons (rain and dry seasons) before a crop variety released commercially.

Mufid Busairi, a member of Commission on Agri and Fisheries in the parliament, from faction PKB, Nation Awakening Party, said in Hotel Aryaduta, 7 November 2007, subsidy to rice seeds for 2007 amounted Rp 1.2 trillions DPR or law makers supporting policy ministry of agriculture which preferred domestic-based hybrid rice;. Meaning DPR has approved the government’s policy for hybrid rice. Imported hybrid rice seed beyond authority of MoA, because this was high profile trade politic between JK (Vice President) and TW, a business tycoon (see, also: Tommy Winata with rice seeds will stop imported rice for Indonesians? Riza V. Tjahjadi, BioTani Indonesia Foundation. Jakarta, 12 September 2007; Kalla backs hybrid rice to increase food stock, the Jakarta Post 18 Oct. 2007; Hybrid Rice in Indonesia, Too ambitious with the Golden Boy..! BioTani Indonesia. Jakarta 25 Oct. 2007)

Be wary promote ITK; it’s neutral without clear ideology

Indigenous Technology and Knowledge or sustainable agriculture is merely instrument
When dealing seeds planting. This may be become misleading if someone, SA, SRI or organic farming campaigner(s), merely depends and heavily promoting on planting system which, later perceived by researchers and seed companies as neutral technology for growing whatever rice seed varieties.

In the Pedoman Umum Budidaya Padi Hibrida or General Guideline Planting Hybrid Rice issued by Badan Litbang Departemen Pertanian (the Agency for Agriculture Reseach and Development) March 2007 follows prinsip Pendekatan Pengelolaan Tanaman Terpadi Padi Sawah or integrated crop management for sawah paddy approach principles. In brief, suggested technology component with PTT for hybrid rice cultivation.

1. Using high yielded rice varieties and/or high economic value.
2. Using certified seeds with high quality seedling.
3. Using balance fertiliser with site specific consideration.
4. Using organic compost materials and/or animal manure as fertiliser and soil restorer.
5. Seeds management and healthy rice crop.
o Planting arrangement with “sistem legowo”, “tegel”, or direct seedling with maintaining minimum population.
o Using seed with characters high viability (“daya tumbuh tinggi”), relatively quick and grow simultaneously which resulted from separation of good quality rice seeds (pursuing the grain is fully compact).
o Transplanting young seedlings with limited amount, and put it between 1 and 3 seedlings per hole.
o Arranging irrigation with interval, and drying with interval, and
o Weed management.
6. Pest and disease management with integrated approach.
7. Using mechanical paddy thresher.

Moreover, hybrid rice cultivation also suggested can apply “model tegel” (20 x 20 cm, 22 x 22 cm or 25 x 25 cm). “Model Legowo” 2:1, 3:1 or 4:1 with space 12,5 cm within row and 25 cm inter row. All two planting methods relate to crop population with a hectare of sawah (Table 1).

Table 1. Rice Crop Population within a hectares rice field
No Planting Method Population per Ha % to Population with Model Tegel
1 Tegel (a floor tile) 20 x 20 cm 250 000 100
2 Tegel 22 x 22 cm 206 611 >100
3 Tegel 25 x 25 cm 160 000 <100
4 Legowo 2: 1 (10 x 20 cm) 333 333 133
5 Legowo 3: 1 (10 x 20 cm) 375 000 150
6 Legowo 4 : 1 (10 x 20 cm) 400 000 160
7 Legowo 2 : 1 (12,5 x 25 cm) 213 000 133
8 Legowo 3 : 1 (12,5 x 25 cm) 240 000 150
9 Legowo 4 : 1 (12,5 x 25 cm) 256 000 160
Note: by RVT
Tegel = literary, a floor tile, symmetric planting system (tegel). Wider space among rows facilitates faster growing of seedling.
Legowo = feel relieved or space; this model traditionally practices mostly by farmers in Central Jawa, using plant spacing.

Table above shows “model legowo” with similar spacing has higher population 33-60% compare to “model tegel”, in turn, harvested grains expected have higher amount. Experienced using “model legowo” planting system in various parts of Jawa (West, Central and East Jawa) shows increasing harvested seeds at around 6-26.6% or 0.4 – 1.6 ton/ha compare to “model tegel” planting system. Badan Litbang Deptan (AARD MoA) resumed, at least, seven advantages by using “model legowo” to hybrid rice seeds, three examples: higher production, and border effect of “model legowo” sound working effectively, and rat infestation at lower rate.

Although last year, hybrid rice not successful contributing to national rice production, mostly hampered by prolong drought and distribution problems, but who knows for this year. Who knows whenever agri-researchers and/or farmers use System of Rice Intensification (SRI) for hybrid rice mass cultivation? It’s a mater of time.

Jakarta, 23 January 2008

About SRI in Indonesia; just two examples:

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