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close this bookCERES No. 105/109 - October 1985 (FAO Ceres, 1985, 50 p.)
close this folderInterviews
View the documentPrime Minister Brian Mulroney of Canada:
View the documentPrime Minister Zhao Ziyang of China:
View the documentPresident Belisario Betancur of Colombia:
View the documentPresident Mohamed Hosni Mubarak of Egypt:
View the documentPrime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India:
View the documentPresident Suharto of Indonesia:
View the documentPrime Minister Bettino Craxi of Italy:
View the documentPresident Seyni Kountche of Niger:
View the documentPresident Julius K. Nyerere of Tanzania:

President Suharto of Indonesia:

"The issue of food can offer our world an area of constructive collaboration."

Of the many forms development assistance can assume, which have you found to be most effective for promoting agricultural development in Indonesia?

Those projects that stimulate growth of indigenous capability to carry on further development efforts, based on domestic resources, are the most effective. Assistance that raises the productivity of the rural poor is essential.

In the early stages of development, countries find their infrastructures, trained manpower, technical capabilities or their ability to provide counterpart resources severely limited. Grant types of assistance are appropriate. Gradually, as domestic capability is strengthened, more sophisticated projects can be developed using external aid as a complementary resource.

Indonesia's ultimate objective, as spelled out in our national plans, is to see industry emerge as the backbone of our economy. This is possible only if agriculture-which remains the dominant sector, aside from oil and natural gas - is simultaneously supported and reinforced.

Agriculture is a source of renewable wealth. It provides sustenance and employment to the rural majority and purchasing power, which supports industry. It meets basic human needs for food. Looking back over the past 15 years, we see Indonesia applied about 20 per cent of the foreign assistance it received to agriculture, giving high priority to the food subsector.

But attainment of physical production targets is not enough. The most effective programmes are those that deliberately foster equity and social justice. More equitable participation of the rural poor in the benefits of growth provides the only solid foundation for national and regional, as well as global, stability.

Among the projects FAO has been executing in Indonesia, which have proved to be the most useful? What projects will be most pertinent to your future needs in agricultural development?

There has been a history of constructive cooperation since 1949, when Indonesia joined FAO. These collaborative ties were further strengthened with the establishment of the FAO Representation in 1979.

This cooperation is perhaps best seen in the 30 FAO technical assistance projects currently being implemented. They cover a wide range: crops, irrigation, livestock, fisheries, transmigration, cooperatives, forests, agricultural research, education, training. Indonesians work alongside 70 FAO specialists drawn from all over the world in achieving our national plan objectives.

A number of FAO projects have had a remarkable impact. The secondary crops intensification programme, for example, reinforced our efforts to broaden the income base of farmers. In the Eastern Islands, the strengthening of animal health services has cut down livestock losses. It stimulated the interest of other donors.

Work in fisheries, enhancement of our research in hybrid coconuts, rubber, and palm oil have been effective. Similar examples are: transmigration operational support, forestry, Upper Solo watershed management, soil survey and research, technical training, income-generating activities for women, and technical cooperation programmes of FAO.

Indonesia will remain a country of small farmers and fisherfolk into the next century. Hence, we welcome the adaptation of methodologies developed by FAO from its work in other countries. Its coverage ought to include: farming systems research and development, post-harvest technology and marketing, forest inventory and management, women, and environmental impact.

Underpinning all these is our shared commitment to ensure that people no longer live under the unacceptable conditions of "absolute poverty", which denies their full God-given human potential.

Petroleum exports have been a major factor in Indonesia's economic development. What has been the impact of the recent decline in petroleum earnings on agricultural development? What are the prospects for the future?

Oil and natural gas provide resources for our development. They accounted for 73 per cent of total export earnings over the last five years. We have used the income prudently, investing in agriculture and other productive activities.

Yet, oil and natural gas are limited sources of energy. They are not renewable. And world demand is weak.

To ensure that we do not become too reliant on oil and that the momentum of development is sustained, we have adopted policies to promote non-oil exports, including agricultural commodities, through programmes like replanting, rejuvenation, rehabilitation, and diversification of crops. Measures to increase the competitiveness of agricultural commodities in the export market have been launched. Appropriate monetary, credit, and fiscal policies have been adopted.

An indication of the way Indonesia successfully overcame the recession is the fact that stagnant GDP growth in 1982 has expanded to well over 4.5 per cent. Our 4th National Plan calls for growth of at least five per cent. This rate of growth is relatively high, compared with l that achieved by most developing countries.

Since 1981, the goal of self-sufficiency in rice has appeared to be within reach for Indonesia, though bad weather has perhaps delayed this achievement. Does this campaign for rice self sufficiency call for cutbacks in production of major export crops such as coffee, rubber, tea, and forest products? What is the relationship between the food and cash crop sectors?

Provision of adequate food and reduction of malnutrition are major priorities. Food security is at the core of development.

As in most Southeast Asian countries, rice constitutes the main staple for Indonesia. Rice produced in 1984 increased by 6.4 per cent over the 1983 level. Looking at the three national five-year plan periods, we find increases were: 4.7 per cent, 3.8 per cent, then 6.1 per cent. This is more than the still relatively high population growth rates of 2.3 per cent per annum, despite our successful population programmes. In rice we had reached a stage of self-sufficiency, but we would like to stabilize production and keep pace with population growth.

Development of the food and cash crop sectors are integral parts of agricultural development. Earnings from cash crop exports like rubber, palm oil, and coffee have been adversely affected by the recession. The development of our food sector is mostly financed from domestic sources. But cash crops are partly financed from external sources, i.e., loans from international financial institutions.

Food security will remain a major concern well into the next century, as the recent crisis in Africa shows. For these reasons, Indonesia collaborates with other nations, in ASEAN, or organizations like FAO, to improve food security.

You just spoke of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. Could you comment on ASEAN's work in food and agriculture?

The six ASEAN nations-Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand-believe that it is only through collective self-reliance at the national, subregional and regional levels that enduring solutions can be found to solve common problems, including those of food and agriculture. ASEAN has developed an emergency food reserve. We have an agreement on fisheries. Educational exchanges among agricultural schools have been facilitated.

We have common projects in forestry. ASEAN offers a model for practical effective technical cooperation among developing countries in such crucial fields as food security. I believe this underscores the relevance of multilateral ties for the future. ASEAN can share its experience with others.

At the thirtieth anniversary of the Bandung Conference, you spoke of the need for developing countries to intensify their dialogue with advanced nations on questions of food, market expansion, and promotion of science and technology. Would you like to comment on the scope of such a dialogue?

Being a universal concern, the issue of food can offer our world an area of constructive collaboration to restart the North-South dialogue. Provision of food for the hungry and alleviation of malnutrition and rural poverty can unite us and reduce the diversion of valuable resources to the increasingly dangerous arms race.

There is much that advanced nations and developing countries can do in the fields of food production, agrarian reform, enhancement of the roles of women and youth, agricultural research and training, or conserving the environment. Both North and South have a mutual interest in establishing stable systems of food production that meet human needs, diffuse tensions. Organizations like FAO can play an invaluable role in promoting such dialogues.

What are the major environmental problems that Indonesia has encountered within the agricultural sector? What steps have you taken to overcome these?

We are deeply concerned by the destruction of our forest cover and soil erosion, as well as by pollution due to industrial wastes.

This concern led Indonesia to host the 8th World Forestry Congress with its theme "Forests Are for People." This underscores our belief that forests will be conserved only if their benefits are not monopolized by a few but shared by the people. Indonesia supports FAO's initiative in marking 1985 as the International Year of the Forest to alert the world to the need for conservation.

To overcome these problems, Indonesia has adopted programmes for reforestation and soil and water conservation, through an integrated watershed management approach, for the rehabilitation of critical soils. All projects today include an environmental impact analysis. Those who share our environmental concerns are encouraged.

Indonesia is among the top ten fishing nations of the world, with the greater part of the catch being landed by artisanal fishermen. Are more modern fishing fleets and methods going to become essential for maintaining your place as a major fishing nation? If so, how will this affect the million or so artisanal fishermen involved?

The maximum sustainable yield from Indonesia's marine resources is estimated at 4.5 million metric tons from its archipelagic waters and 2.1 million tons from its Exclusive Economic Zone. From this tremendous potential, the rate of exploitation was only around 24 per cent in 1983. Modern methods are needed to provide more protein in our people's diets and increase incomes, especially those of artisanal fishermen. The Programme of Action, adopted at the World Conference on Fisheries, offers a useful framework for us.

Conflicts between artisanal and industrial fishermen can be avoided. We seek to allocate coastal fishing areas to individual small fishermen. Off-shore fishing and deep-sea or EEZ areas can be exploited by larger vessels.

Organization is the key to the development of small-scale artisanal fishermen. We support their efforts to organize themselves into smallscale modern entities. The private sector is encouraged to invest in the medium- and large-scale fishing organizations.

To what extent do you consider that Indonesia's transmigration policies have been successfully implemented? What do you regard as the major problems still to be faced in this respect?

One need only look at Indonesia's geographic features and population distribution to understand why transmigration is one of our most important programmes. Our 13 677 islands add up to a land area of 1.9 million km². But its total surface area, including the seas within our archipelagic boundaries, is over 4.8 million km².

Population and economic resources are very unevenly distributed. Java accounts for almost one half of Indonesia's GDP. Well over 62 per cent of our population live on the island, which has only seven per cent of its land area. Thus, density in Java is 700 per km².

To ensure that the sources and benefits of development are equitably spread, we have adopted a transmigration programme. It has multidimensional goals. In addition to seeking a more balanced population distribution and regional development, it promotes additional employment opportunities and improves farmers' welfare.

Transmigration is not simply physically shifting people from one region to another. It is a complex operation involving multifarious activities, including provision of infrastructure, housing, agricultural inputs, etc.

In such a complex project, success is hard to gauge. Valid criteria on its contribution to farmers' welfare, increases in productivity, promotion of regional activity have to be developed. Not all of these criteria can easily be measured. It takes years for results to be seen. Where perennial crops are planted, it takes years before the first harvest can be gathered.

Coordination in planning and implementation, better preparation with respect to land capability survey, location, housing facilities, faster issuance of land titles, the provision of sufficient infrastructure, and supporting services are needed.

In a real sense, it is a human development programme. The fact that over one million people have been moved under the programme speaks for itself.

Indonesia is a country of great diversity in language, ethnic groups and religion. What impact does such diversity have upon achieving national agricultural development objectives?

A country consisting of more than 13 000 islands, understandably, faces problems. Communication is one. For some islands, consumption centres are distant from the production areas. This gives rise to marketing problems. But these problems are not insurmountable.

More importantly, the great diversity in language, ethnic groups, and religion has not constrained our achieving national development objectives. Indonesia's emblem carries the motto "Unity through Diversity". This reflects the reality of Indonesia today-created as one country, one nation with one language.