Home' Grower : February 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- February 2013
Indonesia tackles major
veggie 'image' problem
By LOUISE PREECE
MUCH like Australia,
Indonesia is feeling
the pressure of
increasing fast food chains on the
health of its population. But the
problem goes much deeper than
greasy burger or pizza outlets --
Indonesian people view
vegetables as an inferior, second-
grade food option.
Joko Mariyono, project
coordinator for The World
Vegetable Centre's vegetable
work in East Java, simply explains
it as an "image" problem.
This is something Australian
farmers can identify with, as their
agriculture sector has been
suffering from an image problem
"Many Indonesians prefer to
eat meat or rice if they have the
choice," Dr Mariyono said.
Obesity, he said, was a growing
issue in the archipelago.
In fact, figures tell a startling
tale. The country's population of
more than 240 million consume
less than 50 per cent of the
recommended daily ser ve of
vegetables -- less than 400 grams -
according to the World Health
Dr Mariyono says the problem
is being addressed, but it will be a
tough job to change the image of
vegetables, while lifting
He is heading a project in the
province in East Java, which has
been selected because its
vegetable consumption is actually
below the national average.
"Basically, the aim is to increase
production, increase consumption
and increase the income of
farmers," he said.
The World Vegetable Centre
director of research Jackie
Hughes says the AVRDC's main
aim is to help farmers in poorer
areas, while lifting nutrition.
She said it was not all about
yield, but about improving
practices from the paddock all the
way to plate.
"We want people to have a
balanced diet, grow some veggies
and hopefully the world will be a
better place to live in," she said.
Dr Mariyono agreed, adding it
was a very holistic and grassroots
approach to the issue.
He said Java produced 60pc of
the nation's vegetable, with
800,000 hectares under
production. There was no more
land available for new farming,
but it was possible to lift
He said that in 1986, vegetable
yield equalled 4 tonnes/ha and a
decade later, that had increased
through improved practices to
It is a stark contract to
Australia's 15t/ha or the 20t/ha
in the United States but he said it
was important to remember
Indonesian growers did not have
access to the technology of
At the moment, there is 1.3
million tonnes of cabbage grown,
1.05mt of chilli, 1mt of potato
and 750,000t of shallots.
Dr Mariyono said the average
farm size in East Java totalled
0.3ha, with beans, cabbage and
potato under cultivation.
Indonesian farmers are plagued
by seasonal and supply chain
He said that in the rainy season,
diseases thrive in vegetable crops
but prices are high while dr y
season prices touch a stark low.
"It's a risky business," Dr
This is where AVRDC's four-
year project aims -- to alleviate
some of the problems Indonesian
farmers grapple with.
"We are teaching growers how
to graft their vegetables, which
will allow them to better cultivate
crops in the rainy season," he
The project also hopes to
address supply issues -- and there
"The problem is the collector
or the retailer takes the highest
margins, while growers probably
only get 15pc of the profits," Dr
"We need to work out how to
provide farmers with more
Dr Mariyono's colleague,
Kuntoro Boga Andri, who heads
up the government's agricultural
department (BPTP), says they
plan to investigate direct
"We want to make the gap
between the producer and the
consumer smaller," Mr Boga
"Vegetables simply take too
long to get to the consumer and
we need to work out how to
simplify this process."
East Javanese vegetable grower Suko Wiyono, who farms in the Blitar
region, is running an AVRDC trial on his property. The study aims to find
20 chilli lines resistant to fungal disease Anthracnose. It is part of a
wider project to improve Indonesian nutrition and vegetable production.
Obesity growing issue
Direct marketing plans con-
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