The Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister has initiated the establishment of Cavendish banana plantations for exports in Blitar, East Java, to help curb the nation’s trade deficit and spur local economic growth.
According to secretary Susiwijono, the government is working on a 4-hectare demonstration plot with farmers and agro-industrial firm Great Giant Pineapple (GGP) as a standby buyer for the products. The ministry’s farmers empowerment program will cover matters related to production and marketing, he added.
Cavendish bananas were chosen because of their high economic value and wide market potential, Susiwijono said. Indonesia currently exports Cavendish bananas to China, Japan, Korea and the Middle East. However, demand from these countries has not been fulfilled because of limited production land.
Susiwijono pointed out that the agriculture sector is also the third-largest contributor to the nation’s GDP, after the industrial and trade sectors.
However, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data recently revealed that fruit imports totaled US$1.24 billion from January to November last year, up 9.61 percent from $1.13 billion in the same period in 2018. Fruit imports contributed to the nation’s trade deficit widening to $3.11 billion as of November 2019.
“The rise of imported fruits is because Indonesian households buy more Chinese apples and oranges ahead of the holidays compared to last year,” BPS chairman Suhariyanto said in December.
The top three fruit importers into Indonesia were China, Japan and Thailand. Fruit imports from China have more than doubled to $134.42 million in November 2019 from $64.17 million in the same period in 2018.