Wednesday, 08 August, 2012 | 18:00 WIB
Losing money, Soybean Farmers Switch to Oranges
TEMPO Interactive, Banyuwangi:Head of the Agriculture Plantation Forestry and Horticulture Office in Banyuwangi regency, East Java, Pratmadja Gunawan, says that many soybean farmers in Banyuwangi have now turned to cultivating oranges and dragon fruit.
This is due to the continued reduction in soybean farming areas over the last three years. In 2009, there were 37,677 hectares of soybean plants. In 2010, it shrunk to only 36,912 hectares. "In 2011, the area was reduced yet again to 36,068 hectares," he told reporters on Tuesday.
From findings at the Agriculture Office, said Pratmadja, it was discovered that the reduced soybean fields was because farmers had switched to cultivating oranges and dragon fruits, which are more promising. One hectare of land can produce 34 tons of oranges, for soybeans the equivalent is Rp5,000 per kilogram.
During harvest time, soybean prices plunged to Rp 5,000 per kilogram, causing losses because for the farmers to make a profit, soybeans must be proced at Rp 6,000 per kilogram at the lowest.
The reduction in soybean fields in the past three years is quite alarming because Banyuwangi soybeas have so far been the buffer for national production. In 2011, soybean production was 66,094 tons of. "The land for soy in Banyuwangi is the largest on the island of Java," he said.
Head of the horticulture division at the ministry, Saipullah, confirmed the switch. According to him, the area used to grow oranges has increased from 8,000 hectares to 10,000 hectares. The same goes for land used for dragon fruit which has increased from 100 hectares to 340 hectares. "Oranges are more prospective," he said.
Secretary of the Association of Indonesian Farmers, Suyitno, explained that farmers are shifting from soybean to oranges and dragon fruits because the government does not provide certainty of soybean prices.
According to him, the reality on the ground during the main harvest soybean prices has dropped between Rp 2,000 and Rp 3,000 per kilogram. "This is what makes soybean farmers move to producing the more expensive oranges," he said.
The rate of reduction in soybean fields, said Suyitno, could only be stopped if the central government immediately establishes a purchase price by the government (HPP) to provide certainty to farmers. IKA NINGTYAS