Andi Haswidi, The
Jakarta Post, Jakarta
In order to increase farmers'
productivity and incomes, the Trade Ministry is set to
initiate a program next year covering capacity-building,
improvements in market access and an integrated
"One of our main objectives is
to improve farmers' access to the retail market so that
they can benefit from higher incomes through more
competitive prices," Director General of Domestic Trade
Ardiansyah Parman announced Friday in Jakarta.
Ardiansyah explained that most
of the value of agricultural products was soaked up by
high distribution costs, meaning that farmers only
received less than 30 percent of the retail price.
Ardiansyah said that farmers
needed improved access so that they could secure higher
margins on their produce. This included providing
greater access to wholesale markets. Accordingly, he
explained, the ministry has been lobbying wholesale
market operators (mostly local government-owned
companies) to allocate more space for farmers to sell
their produce directly to the retailers.
"We have begun pilot projects
in three wholesale markets in West Java -- one in Garut,
one in Majalengka and one in Ciwidey. Around 20 percent
of the space available in these markets is allocated to
farmers for selling their produce. We are currently
still assessing the success of the projects in these
markets. If everything turns out well, then this can
serve as a blueprint for adoption for other wholesale
markets around the country," he said.
"This program also benefits the
wholesale markets as it leads to a win-win situation."
Market access is only one part
of the program. Extension services on agricultural best
practices and entrepreneurship will also be made
available to farmers in collaboration with the
Agriculture Ministry and non-governmental organizations,
with the overall aim being to improve farmers'
Although still at the early
stages of discussion, the program also envisages the
development of an integrated information system
accessible by all stakeholders in the agriculture
"This system will provide
information on market transactions, produce supplies and
prices, as well as other essential information," he
"Farmers will be able to use
their mobile phones to monitor produce prices on a daily
basis," he said.