Indonesia to build world’s breadbasket in Papua

Between now and 2030 Indonesia expects to become one of the world’s biggest producers of rice, maize, sugar, coffee, shrimp, meats and palm oil.

JAYAPURA — Indonesia is encouraging foreign and local investors to lease huge swathes of fertile countryside and help make the country a major food producer.

“Feed Indonesia, then feed the world,” was the recent call from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono after the government announced plans to fast-track development of vast agricultural estates in remote areas like Papua and Borneo.

The first area targeted for development is 1.6 million hectares in the southeast of province of Papua, around the town of Merauke.

The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate will create thousands of jobs and turn an impoverished and neglected corner of the Indonesian archipelago into a hive of activity.

The government choses Merauke because it’s the ideal place for food crop cultivation, such as rice, corn, soybean and sugar cane. Merauke district has 4.5 million hectares of land; 2.5 million hectares are ideal for cultivation. The area is flat and has a good climate. Its soil is appropriate for those crops.

Merauke’s population of some 175,000 people could rocket to 800,000 if the plan takes off.

Foreigners will be able to control a maximum of 49 percent of any investing company, and will be offered incentives like tax breaks and reductions in customs and excise duties.

Source: New Straits Times

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