Indonesia: Fertilizer subsidy to boost organic farming

The Bali administration is determined to continue transforming the island into an “organic” province, where local farmers embrace healthier and greener organic farming.

On Friday, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika declared his administration would increase the subsidy provided for organic fertilizer to encourage local farmers to make the transition from chemical to organic fertilizer.

“We’ll continue to increase the subsidy for organic fertilizer and hope our attempt to transform the island into an organic island can be realized soon,” Pastika said in a seminar in Denpasar.

Pastika revealed that in 2014, the administration would allocate Rp 10 billion from its annual budget for the subsidy. The amount is much higher than the Rp 4 billion allocated this year.

Organic provinces have been one Pastika’s initiatives since 2008. The governor believes organic farming is critical to the survival of the island’s agriculture, which is threatened by land conversions related to tourism and the booming property sector. Organic farming could provide the edge local farmers need to corner competitive food product markets in the tourist sector.

A key strategy in the initiative is the integrated farming system (Simantri), which sees the provincial administration disburse a generous package of cash and technical assistance to any farmer group willing to adopt organic farming and pursue alternative energy programs. Simantri also involves responsible stockbreeding. Waste from farming activities is processed into biogas, organic pesticides and organic fertilizers.

This year, 425 farmer groups across Bali have participated in the Simantri program.

“We’re eager to have at least 1,000 Simantri groups. I’m sure, if we work hard, we’ll achieve it,” Pastika said.

Another key strategy is phasing out the chemical fertilizer subsidy while increasing the organic fertilizer subsidy. The administration completely stopped subsidizing chemical fertilizer in 2012, forcing farmers to pay a higher price for chemical fertilizer.

Previously in 2008, the administration allocated Rp 4 billion for the fertilizer subsidy, all of which went to chemical fertilizer. In 2009, Bali allocated Rp 3 billion to subsidize chemical fertilizer, with Rp 1 billion for organic fertilizer.

In 2010, the administration reduced the allocation for synthetic fertilizer subsidies to Rp 2 billion and allocated the remaining Rp 2 billion to organic fertilizers.

“Through the policy, we hope more farmers will use organic fertilizer,” Pastika said.

Organic farming would create positive effects on the island’s environment and would also hopefully improve the economic condition of farmers on the island, the governor went on.

“The cost of organic agricultural products is much higher. I’m sure organic farming will bring prosperity to our farmers and develop the agriculture sector,” Pastika said, adding the administration was eager to develop that sector rather than tourism alone.

The governor added that an organic trade center would be built on the island, acting as a market for organic farming products, but he did not explain when it would be realized.

“The organic trade center is really important as many farmers often find it difficult to sell their products,” Pastika said.

Source: Bali Daily

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