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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs   29 November 2010

Indonesia to push coffee

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Indonesia is planning to reverse a recent decline in production by revitalizing its coffee plantations starting next year.

"Coffee is also a strategic commodity in our rural economy. Therefore, we will include coffee in the plantation revitalization program next year," Agriculture Minister Suswono said on Saturday.

As part of the effort to develop and increase coffee production, the Agriculture Ministry will include coffee as one of the commodities to be prioritized in the plantation revitalization program next year.

So far, only three other agricultural commodities have been included in the country's revitalization program - oil palm, rubber and cocoa.

The inclusion of coffee in the priority program is expected to raise coffee farmers' incomes and the country's foreign exchange earnings from coffee exports, which have been declining recently, Suswono said, adding that coffee was one of the commodities seen to have a good chance at being revitalized.

The country's coffee productivity is lower than usual this year, around 700 kilograms per hectare, data from the ministry's directorate general of plantations showed.

The ministry said that Indonesia's coffee plantations cover some 1.31 million hectares, consisting of 1.07 million hectares (82 percent) planted with Robusta beans and the other 240,000 hectares (18 percent) with Arabica coffee.

Of the total plantation acreage, about 96 percent belongs to smallholders, two percent to private firms and the other two percent to state firms.

First planted in Indonesia in 1699, Arabica coffee is quite popular in world markets, and the government said it would focus on boosting its development. The country produces many varieties of the bean, among them Toraja, Flores and Java. Arabica accounts for 30 percent of national coffee production.

The government also has plans to boost production of Robusta coffee, as well as to improve the quality of the yield.

Among the efforts are rejuvenation, diversification and the integration of coffee plantations and cow farming, the minister said.

The ministry's announcement comes on the heels of a downgraded forecast for the commodity's export volume for 2010.

Indonesia's coffee export was originally forecast to reach 400,000 tons worth $773 million this year, said Rachim Kartabrata, executive secretary of the Indonesian Coffee Exporters Association (AEKI).

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