Amadeusz Juskowiak

Indonesian agriculture growth expected to slow

Indonesias agriculture sector will grow by just 10 pct in calendar 1987 against an estimated 24 pct in 1986 as the production of some commodities stagnates or declines the US Embassy said in a report

Production of Indonesias staple food rice is forecast to fall to around 263 mln tonnes from an embassy estimate of 2658 mln tonnes in 1986 according to the annual report on Indonesias agricultural performance

The government officially estimates 1986 rice production at 267 mln tonnes with a forecast 273 mln tonnes output in 1987

The report says wheat imports are likely to fall to 15 mln tonnes in calendar 1987 from 169 mln tonnes in 1986 because of a drawdown on stocks

Growth prospects for agriculture in 1987 do not look promising as rice production is forecast to decline and the production of sugarcane rubber and copra show little or no gain the report says

The modest overall increase which is expected will be due to significant gains in production of corn soybeans palm oil and palm kernels

Constraints to significant overall increases in agricultural output include a shortage of disease resistant seeds limited fertile land insect pests and a reluctance by farmers to shift from rice production to other crops the report underlines

The fall in rice production is caused by an outbreak of pests known as wereng or brown plant hoppers in 1986 which largely offset gains in yields

The outbreak has forced the government to ban the use of 57 insecticides on rice because it was believed the wereng are now resistant to these varieties and to use loweryielding more resistant rice types

The government is depending on increased production of export commodities such as coffee tea rubber plywood and palm oil to offset revenue losses brought on by falling crude oil prices

Palm oil production is expected to increase by over 70 pct in 1987 to 145 mln tonnes from 135 mln with exports rising to an estimated 720000 tonnes from 695000 tonnes in 1986 the report says

But while production of soybeans in 198788 OctSept will rise to 1075 mln tonnes from 980000 in 198687 imports will also rise to supply a new soybean crushing plant

The report says that imports of wheat soybeans soybean meal and cotton are not likely to decline as a result of last Septembers 31 pct devaluation of the rupiah because of a rise in domestic demand

The report said that Indonesias overall economic performance in calendar 1986 was about zero or even a slight negative growth rate the lowest rate of growth since the mid1960s It compares with 19 pct growth in 1985 and 67 pct in 1984

The dramatic fall in oil prices last year was responsible for the slump