Kendari. Cocoa is one of major commodities from Sulawesi. To raise cocoa production, it needs commitment from local governments to give guidance to the cacao farmers. Vice President Jusuf Kalla stated this in a meeting on the development of cacao plantation attended by all governors in Sulawesi, held at the official residence of Southeast Sulawesi Governor in Kendari, today.
The Vice President added that the guidance can be in the form of increasing the number of supervisory programs for the farmers by adding more field workers (penyuluh lapangan) and empowering students of agricultural faculty taking internship to share their knowledge.
In finance, Mr Kalla said, government should provide micro credit programs (KUR) for the farmers to support their plantation and stabilize the cacao beans price.
Previously, Agricultural Minister Amran Sulaiman reported to the Vice President that Indonesia is the third largest cacao producer afetr Ivory Coast and Ghana, with 1.7 million lands and 700 thousand tons per year. However, the productivity only reaches 800 thousand tons with productive areas of only around 800 thousand hectares. For that reason, the Minister said, it needs rehabilitation and replantation programs.
“We need to make efforts on intensification rehabilitation, and rejuvenation to raise productivity. By these, we hope we will be the largest cacao producer in three years,” he said, adding that cacao is more beneficial for the farmers than palm oil as it is run directly by the people.
In the meantime, Industry Minister Saleh Husin told that after the implementation of import tax since the last five years, downstream cacao industry has developed rapidly.
“As the result, we are lack of cacao beans and have to import them,” said the minister, adding that local cacao quality is minor for cocoa production.
The Vice President recapped that local governments and farmers do not need to worry about the world market as it tends to shrink.
He is also optimistic that Indonesia can increase its cacao productivity. “We have to reach 1.7 ton per hectare per year. This is a feasible target,” he affirmed.
Before the meeting, the Vice President held a dialog with cacao farmers and went to and observed the cacao plantation in Kendari.