SERDANG BEDAGAI — President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) on Monday (27/11/2017) once again took part in the replanting of palm oil plantations belonging to smallholders in North Sumatra, as part of efforts to boost national output and maintain its position as the world’s top producer of the commodity.
“I have therefore ordered the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Mr. Darmin, to rejuvenate all, those belonging to people should be rejuvenated. If not, we can be overtaken by another country,” Jokowi said during a replanting ceremony in Kota Tengah village, in the North Sumatran district of Serdang Bedagai.
A press release issued by the state secretariat quoted Jokowi as saying that on average, smallholder’s palm oil plantation were more than 25 years old, past their peak productivity and had low yields around a third of those in company plantations.
A total of 1,200 hectares in smallholders palm oil plantations will be replanted under the current program, the second after a similar drive in Musi Banyuasin district, South Sumatera on October 13, 2017.
Under the program, North Sumatra will see a total of 9,109.29 hectares of smallholders’s palm oil plantation in 12 North Sumatran districts replanted.
In Kota Tengah, the replanting uses a superior seed known as Tenera DXP produced by PT Socfin Indonesia (Socfindo) and the Medan-based Center for Palm Oil Research (PPKS). The seed is said to be resistant to the Ganoderma virus which causes white-rot fungus ,cuts down yield and eventually kills the crop.
Jokowi was quoted in the press release as saying that even though Indonesia had sprawling plantation land and is known as the world’s largest palm oil producer, its management was still weak.
He also said that replanting thousands of hectares of old oil palms needed huge fundings. The government has to earmark at least Rp 3 trillion for this, adding that the fund would be channeled to farmers through small people’s business credit scheme (KUR).
“It is not a problem of budget because banks can also come in. Just for the seeds, how many millions will be needed? If i is 185,000 hectares, how many million seeds would have to be prepared?” asked the president.
Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman who accompanied the president at the occasion, said that his ministry was focusing on replanting palm oil plantations after having been able to overcome problems affecting corn and rice.
The agriculture ministry, Sulaiman sai, had found a superior palm oil seed that has the potential of yielding 35 tons per hectares per year and would be distributed to farmers.
“It would be an extraordinary jump. By replanting two to three million (trees), production would be able to jump three to five fold. It would rise to 60 million tons, that would be extraordinary!” Sulaiman said.
After the replanting ceremony in Serdang Bedagai, the president and his retinue continued to Pematang Siantar, a North Sumatran town where the president will hand over 7,000 land certificates to local people.