Robber fly - Nature photographer Thomas Shahan specializes in amazing portraits of tiny insects. It isn't easy. Shahan says that this Robber Fly (Holcocephala fusca), for instance, is "skittish" and doesn't like its picture taken.

Eye-popping bug photos

Nature by Numbers (Video)

"The Greater Akashic System" – July 15, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Caroll) (Subjects: Lightworkers, Intent, To meet God, Past lives, Universe/Galaxy, Earth, Pleiadians, Souls Reincarnate, Invention: Measure Quantum state in 3D, Recalibrates, Multi-Dimensional/Divine, Akashic System to change to new system, Before religion changed the system, DNA, Old system react to Karma, New system react to intent now for next life, Animals (around humans) reincarnate again, This Animal want to come back to the same human, Akashic Inheritance, Reincarnate as Family, Other Planets, Global Unity … etc.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle

Dian Fossey's birthday celebrated with a Google doodle
American zoologist played by Sigourney Weaver in the film Gorillas in the Mist would have been 82 on Thursday (16 January 2014)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Whirlwind hits Central Jakarta, tower collapses

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Tue, 03/31/2009 7:21 PM


A tornado had reportedly hit several areas in Central Jakarta Tuesday evening, kompas.com reported.


Petojo and Cideng were among the areas hit by the whirlwind that occurred within a ten minute time frame.


According to residents, house rooftops, tree branches, a billboard and a tower belonging to the City Transportation Agency were blown away.


Central Jakarta mayor Sylviana Murni is said to have inspected the damages.


"I've just toured the area to observe the situation at hand," Murni said. (amr)



Vietnam wood product export falls sharply in Q1

Hanoi (ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) -- The global economic crisis has reduced demand for wood products, according to an official from the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (VFA).


Association statistics show the wood processing industry had a total export turnover of about US$500 million during the first three months of this year, down 22.9 per cent on a year-on-year basis because many main partners had reduced their imports.


Last year, firms received US$2.8 billion for wood products, which was 13.4 per cent higher than in 2007, but in the first two months of this year, the value fell 60 per cent to US$330 million compared with the same period last year, said VFA Deputy Chairman, Nguyen Ton Quyen.


Indonesian forests suffering from `chronic ailment`: minister

Muaro Bungo, Jambi (ANTARA News) - Forestry Minister MS Kaban said that Indonesian forests were experiencing a chronic `ailment` or serious damage which needed a long time to cure.

"The chronic disease infected the forests as a result of mismanagement in the past which has now affected forest industries and timber companies," the minister said when inaugurating a rural forest project in Lubuk Beringin hamlet, Bungo district, here on Monday.

Forests were damaged as the result of weak government control and mismanagement by forest concessionaires (HPH), timber estates (HTI) and licensed plantations (HGU), he said.

The bankruptcy of forest industries has cut the state`s foreign exchange earning and caused forest theft or illegal logging, the minister said.

In the past, the biggest earner of the country`s foreign exchange was the forestry sector while the oil and gas came only in the second list.

But the past exploitation has adversely caused destruction of our forest now and created different kinds of natural disasters such as floods and drought.

In the new order government era, the conditions of Indonesia`s natural resources were good, such as those of forest, mining and marine resources, which all contributed significant incomes to the state, he said.

He said that over the past three years the government had been launching a forest plantation movement. Through the movement, a total of 1.9 million trees had been planted.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

100 still missing in Situ Gintung dam burst tragedy

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sun, 03/29/2009 2:29 PM


Recovering remains: Indonesian soldiers search for victims after a dam burst in Jakarta on Sunday. Attention shifted to caring for homeless and hungry survivors after a dam burst outside the Indonesian capital, sending a wall of water crashing into homes and killing at least 91 people. More than 100 others are still missing, but hope dimmed Sunday of finding them alive. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)


An emergency search and rescue team (UMJ) combing the Situ Gintung area has so far found 96 fatalities, while 100 residents remain missing, tempointeraktif.com reported on Sunday.


"The count is based on the reports of local residents and also neighborhood coordination. Many of the bodies are not clear which neighborhood unit they belong to," UMJ coordinator Rahmat Salam said.


More than 500 people have volunteered to help evacuate victims in the aftermath of the deadly collapse of the Situ Gintung sluice gate and embankment in Cireundeu, Tangerang.


The team comprises members of the national Search and Rescue (SAR), BNPN, Gegana bomb squad, the Health Agency, the Indonesian Red Cross, the police, college students and other members of the public.


The dam burst, which was triggered by heavy torrential rains on Friday evening, had flatted 319 homes, schools and a university campus.


More than 500 residents became homeless and were staying at temporary shelters erected at several locations around the disaster area. (amr)



Friday, March 27, 2009

Three volcanoes on second level alert status

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 03/27/2009 2:48 PM

The Bandung-based Vulcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Center has raised the status of Semeru volcano in Central Java, to second highest level alert, bringing the total number of volcanoes on the same alert level to three.

Agus Budianto, a top official at the governmental office, said Friday that Semeru was the latest volcano to increase its acitivity.

Previously the office had raised Karangetang volcano in North Sulawesi and Ibu volcano in North Maluku since December and April last year, respectively.

Agus said that currently there are 68 active volcanoes, out of a total of 129 volcanoes, in Indonesia.

Out of the 68 volcanoes, 14, including Dempo in South Sumatra, Anak Krakatau in Sunda Strait, and Bromo in East Java, are on first level alert status – the lowest of the three level statuses.

The office warns the people living near Semeru volcano to remain cautious of volcano disaster.(dre)

Related Article:

Alaska Air suspends Anchorage flights after volcano eruption


Tangerang Dam Burst Kills at Least 28

The Jakarta Globe, March 27, 2009

A rescuer searches for flood victims. (Dadang Tri, Reuters)




A dam on the outskirts of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, burst on Friday, killing 28 people and flooding hundreds of houses nearby, officials said.

Police said that they were still searching the area for more casualties. Metro TV showed rescuers wading up to their chests in floodwater.

"The break down of Situ Gintung dam has claimed 28 lives, and seven houses were swept away," Chrysnanda Dwilaksana, a spokesman for the Jakarta police, said in a telephone text message.

The dam, which was used to retain water in Lake Situ Gintung in Tangerang District, southwest of Jakarta, broke early on Friday morning. There had been heavy rain in the area but so far the cause of the accident is not known.

"Hundreds of houses are flooded, tens of houses damaged, it was like a small tsunami," said Rustam Pakaya, an official at the health ministry.

Related Articles:

Fifty-six lakes around Jakarta vanished in past five years

'It Sounded Like Thunder, Then All Hell Broke Loose'

Death toll dam burst climbs to 69

22 missing in collapsing dam incident

President instructs reconstruction of Situ Gintung dam

Govt to hand over cash aid for collapsed dam victims

Tens people missing, 12 killed after dam bursts in Tangerang

A women safe his child from floods in Pondok Pinang, Tangerang, Banten province, Friday (Mar 27). Dike of Gintung reservoir was broken down cause some citizen settlements inundated and 18 peoples death. (ANTARA photo/Paramayuda)

A rescuer searches for flood victims after a dam burst on the
outskirts of Jakarta in Indonesia. (Reuters/Dadang Tri)


Dam burst death toll raises to 20

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 03/27/2009 10:16 AM

A dam burst in Cirendeu, Ciputat, South Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta, before dawn Friday, sending a flash flood into a crowded residential neighborhood, submerging hundreds of houses and killing at least 20 people, officials said.

A wave of water crashed into around 400 homes in the industrial area of Tangerang at around 2.00 a.m., said Health Ministry Crisis Center chief Rustam Pakaya. Floodwaters were up to 2.5 meters deep is some areas, police and witnesses said.

Pakaya said 20 bodies had been recovered by rescue teams, but that he expected the death toll to climb because residents were sleeping when the disaster happened. At least a dozen others were reportedly missing.

Antara news agency reporte that search and rescue officers were still working to rescue residents being trapped in their submerged houses. The survivors were evacuated to higher grounds at the nearby Muhammadiyah University of Jakarta.

It was unclear what caused the failure of the 10-meter-high dam, which was holding back around 2 million cubic meters of water at the Pesanggrahan river, according to South Jakarta Police chief Makmur Simbolon.

A rescue worker identified only as Toni, told El Shinta radio another 19 people were being treated at nearby hospitals.

"A flash flood came suddenly and was horrifying," said Seto Mulyadi, whose car was washed nearly 300 feet (100 meters) from his driveway into a public park, as quoted by The Associated Press. "My house in a dreadful mess ... Thank God my family is safe."

Mulyadi said he heard a siren sound at the dam before the water smashed out all the windows and doors and inundated his home in 2.5 meters of water. He said his wife and four children were all sleep upstairs and were unharmed. (dre)

Related Article:

Fargo told Red River could crest at 43 feet

Cracks in levee forces evacuations in Fargo, ND

Thursday, March 26, 2009

New species found in Papua-New Guinea

Reuters, Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:42am EDT

A Litoria frog, which uses a loud ringing song to call for a mate, was discovered in a rainforest during a Conservation International (CI) led Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) expedition of Papua New Guinea's highlands wilderness in 2008 is pictured in this undated handout photo. REUTERS/Steve Richards/Conservation International/Handout

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Jumping spiders, a striped gecko and a chirping frog are among more than 50 new species discovered in Papua-New Guinea, the environmental group Conservation International reported on Tuesday.

The creatures were found during an expedition in July and August in Papua-New Guinea's highlands wilderness, the group said in a statement.

A total of 50 spider species, two plants, three frogs and one gecko found on the expedition are believed to be new to science.

The three frogs include a tiny brown frog with a sharp chirping call, a bright green tree frog with big eyes and a torrent-dwelling frog that has a loud ringing call.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Let’s save our tigers; Leave them in the forests

The Star Online, Malaysia , 22 March 2009

The Star says

JUST scrap this inept idea. There are other ways of bringing the roar back to Penang besides creating a tiger park.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s proposal to create such a park on 40ha of land owned by the Penang Municipal Council in Relau certainly doesn’t fit the description of an eco-tourism project.

The plan has drawn flak from wildlife experts, conservationists and locals. They know better that the rightful place for the majestic animal is in our shrinking forests, not in an artificial habitat near highly populated urban areas.

It has been the CM’s propensity to initiate slogans with the acronym of CAT – Competency, Accountability and Transparency, Central Area Transit, and Career Assistance & Training. This big cat, however, should be best left out of ideas to boost the state’s tourism.

Perhaps, the CM should instead think FAST – Food, Arts, Sea and Traditions – areas in which Penang has enough attractions that can be developed further.

The Pearl of the Orient has already won its culinary credentials. It is a gastronomic destination among top-market travellers, tour groups and back-backers besides domestic tourists hooked on its delectable hawker fare.

Penang is also rich in the arts, with a wide range of museums, galleries, libraries, exhibition halls and colourful performances, including its indigenous boria.

Besides the island’s scenic beaches of Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang, which can use some cleaning-up, easier access should be provided to better ones located along the secluded northwestern coast.

The island’s unique traditions and rich multi-cultural heritage are certainly big draws now that Georgetown has been given a huge tourism advantage through its listing as a World Heritage Site together with Malacca.

But if eco-tourism is indeed the focus, the CM should look at existing areas to improve and promote, like the bio-diversity rich Pantai Aceh National Park, Pulau Jerejak or even Penang Hill.

The idea of confining endangered wild animals in enclosures is passe and regarded as another wanton exploitation of wildlife.

Unlike conservation forest reserves where free roaming animals are kept after being captured for their protection, tiger parks, like the one being planned in Penang, are grossly inappropriate for a species whose natural habitat covers a huge range.

So let’s leave our tigers in the forest.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wild elephants in Bengkulu under threat of extinction

Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - Wild elephants in Bengkulu province are under threat of extinction because illegal loggers and land squatters have begun to operate in areas close to the Seblat Elephant Training Center in North Bengkulu district, a local nature conservation official said.

If the illegal activities were not stopped soon, the forest corridor linking the Elephant Training Center with the Kerinci Seblat National Park would be breached and the habitat of elephants under the center`s care destroyed, Andi Basral, head of Bengkulu`s Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said on Friday through Aswan Bangun, coordinator of the Seblat Elephants Training Center.

"We can do little to overcome the illegal activities because of lack of support from the local law-enforcing agencies," Bangun said.

The BKSDA had the authority to act against the illegal loggers and squatters but the agency`s personnel were limited in number and could therefore not achieve much, he added.

Bangun said about 1,500 heactares of the 6,865-hectare forest-covered zone belonging to the Seblat Elephant Training Center were now in seriously damaged condition because of the illegal activities.

The Seblat Elephant Training Center could only be saved if the local administration, including law-enforcing agencies, took part in efforts to protect the center and the elephants` habitat, Bangun said.

In the past, he said, he had asked for and received assistance from the local forestry service and police to drive away the illegal loggers and squatters but it was only temporary.

"When they (illegal loggers and squatters) get wind of an imminent joint operation against them, they cease their activities but as soon as the officers have gone, they are at it again," he said.

If the illegal activities were not halted, the elephants` habitat would gradually disappear and leave the protected animals nowhere to live.

Bangun said he believed 85 percent of Bengkulu`s wild elephant population was living outside the center and the Kerinci Seblat National Park but did not know exactly how many wild elephants there were in Bengkulu province.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Pink elephant is caught on camera

BBC News, Rebecca Morelle, Science reporter

The little pink calf was spotted in amongst an 80-strong elephant herd

A pink baby elephant has been caught on camera in Botswana.

A wildlife cameraman took pictures of the calf when he spotted it among a herd of about 80 elephants in the Okavango Delta.

Experts believe it is probably an albino, which is an extremely rare phenomenon in African elephants.

They are unsure of its chances of long-term survival - the blazing African sunlight may cause blindness and skin problems for the calf.

Mike Holding, who spotted the baby while filming for a BBC wildlife programme, said: "We only saw it for a couple of minutes as the herd crossed the river.

The baby elephant seems to be sheltering under its mother to protect
itself from the sun

"This was a really exciting moment for everyone in camp. We knew it was a rare sighting - no-one could believe their eyes."

Documented evidence

Albino elephants are not usually white, but instead they have more of a reddish-brown or pink hue.

While albinism is thought to be fairly common in Asian elephants, it is much less common in the larger African species.

Ecologist Dr Mike Chase, who runs conservation charity Elephants Without Borders, said: "I have only come across three references to albino calves, which have occurred in Kruger National Park in South Africa.

"This is probably the first documented sighting of an albino elephant in northern Botswana.
"We have been studying elephants in the region for nearly 10 years now, and this is the first documented evidence of an albino calf that I have come across."

He said that the condition might make it difficult for the calf to survive into adulthood.
"What happens to these young albino calves remains a mystery," said Dr Chase.

"Surviving this very rare phenomenon is very difficult in the harsh African bush. The glaring sun may cause blindness and skin problems."

However, he told BBC News that there might be a ray of hope for the pink calf as it already seemed to be learning to adapt to its condition.

Dr Chase explained: "Because this elephant calf was sighted in the Okavango Delta, he may have a greater chance of survival. He can seek refuge under the large trees and cake himself in a thick mud, which will protect him from the Sun.

"Already the two-to-three-month-old calf seems to be walking in the shade of its mother.

"This behaviour suggests it is aware of its susceptibility to the harsh African sun, and adapted a unique behaviour to improve its chances of survival."

He added: "I have learned that elephants are highly adaptable, intelligent and masters of survival."

Related Article:

Japanese Investors Eye Purbalingga

Friday, 20 March, 2009 | 17:28 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Purbalingga: A number of Japanese investors intend to invest in food production in Purbalingga regency. “At least 171 Jpanese companies are interested in investing in crystal coconut sugar produced by Purbalingga,” said Djoko Triwinarso, Purbalingga Secretariat spokesperson, yesterday.

Two investors, Pooki Teading Co and Asaki Yushi Koogyo, said they were ready to build livestock feed and food industries. However, they submitted some requirements, such as open price standards, quality and continuity.

Purbalingga regent, Triyono Budi Sasongko, said he would support the interest of the Japanese investors. “Beside capital investment, we also hope for a process of technology transfer,” he said.

ARIS ANDRIANTO

Indonesia's Sinar Mas defends palm oil expansion

By Aloysius Bhui, Reuters, Fri Mar 20, 2009 6:31am EDT


JAKARTA, March 20 (Reuters) - Sinar Mas Group, one of Indonesia's top palm oil growers, denied on Friday accusations that its activities were damaging the environment and said it would stick to plans to expand its plantations.


Greenpeace activists have targeted Sinar Mas in a recent campaign for contributing to deforestation in Indonesia, which is blamed as a key source greenhouse gas emissions in the Southeast Asian country.


"We should have been arrested if we had ever been involved in deforestation," Gandi Sulistiyanto, a managing director of Sinar Mas Group, told Reuters.


He said the company only opened up new plantations in degraded land that had been farmed on or previously logged and not rainforest.


Sinar Mas Group owns publicly-listed PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources Tbk (SMART) (SMAR.JK), which runs its palm oil business, and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), which operates the pulp and paper business.

Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia forest campaigner, accused Sinar Mas of destroying forest areas.


"We are facing the greatest threat to humanity -- climate chaos, yet still companies like Sinar Mas can continue to destroy forests and peatlands, rather than protecting them for future generations," Maitar said in a statement.


As of the end of September, SMART managed 127,124 hectares (314,100 acres) of planted oil palm, according to the company.


It produced 410,314 tonnes of crude palm oil in January-September last year, against 509,095 tonnes in all of 2007. [ID:nJAK279457]


The group has earmarked a $100 million palm expansion this year and is not planning to pull back the plan.


"We are still a growing company. We (Indonesia) are still competing with Malaysia to become the world's top producer of palm oil. So we must keep planting," Sulistiyanto said.


He said the current financial crisis may slow down the expansion but would not stop the firm from planting in new areas.


According to Greenpeace, Sinar Mas has 200,000 hectares of unplanted concessions in rainforest in Indonesia and plans to acquire an additional 1.1 million hectares, mainly in Papua.


Sulistiyanto said the firm was currently focused on managing the 11,000 hectares that it has planted with oil palm in the past 14 years in Papua.


"Everybody is eyeing Papua because of its huge land but we haven't got any more concessions there," he said.


Indonesia, the world's top producer of palm oil -- used in a wide range of products, from soap to biodiesel -- is expected to produce 20.25 million tonnes of palm oil in 2009, up from 18.8 million in 2008, the industry association has estimated.


Annette Cotter, campaign manager for the forests campaign in Greenpeace Southeast Asia, has urged Indonesia palm growers to squeeze far higher yields from existing plantations rather than open up more land. [ID:nJAK381772]


Indonesia yields only about 2 tonnes per hectare from its plantations, or just a third of the 6 to 7 tonnes in countries such as Malaysia with better estate management practices. (Editing by Ed Davies and Valerie Lee)


Thursday, March 19, 2009

Banyumas Builds Five Organic Fertilizer Plants

Thursday, 19 March, 2009 | 18:46 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Purwokerto: The Banyumas regency government is encouraging farmers to make better use of organic fertilizers. The effort is being supported by building five organic fertilizer plants in five sub-districts of Banyumas. “With these plants, farmers should no longer burn or throw away their hay after harvesting,” said Banyumas regent, Mardjoko, yesterday. The government has allocated Rp40 million from its budget for this project.

Suwito, chief of the Setia Jaya Farmers Group from Adisana village said the fertilizer plants in his village can produce one ton of organic fertilizers a day. The group has 102 members, with a 30-hectare area of land to work on.

ARIS ANDRIANTO

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Chamber of Commerce Demand Immediate Timber Facility

Wednesday, 18 March, 2009 | 16:37 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: Indonesia Chamber of Commerce urged the government to speed up the plan to build timber storage facilities in several provinces in the country, to boost furniture and handicraft industry.

Rahmat Gobel vice chairman of the chamber said, “the plan must be carried out quickly because it could reduce production cost and improve competitivenes.”

Rahmat said the storages planned for East Java, Central Jawa, Sulawesi, and Papua could eliminate illegal levies. While certification on stored timber would lower illegal logging accusations.

NIEKE INDRIETTA

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wanadri Plants Trees Around Yusril Hill

Monday, 16 March, 2009 | 15:54 WIB

 

TEMPO Interactive, Purwakarta: Jungle Trekkers and Mountain Hikers Association, Wanadri, is building the Yusril Hill monument at Buru Masigit Kareumbi Park in Kareumbi village, Cicalengka, Bandung, West Java.

 

“We will mark the monument by first planting trees,” said Fahrizal, representing Wanadri during the 40 day-memorial of the passing away of Tempo senior journalist, Yusril Djalinus, in Purwakarta, last Saturday.

 

The Yusril Hill monument, Fahrizal said, is to honor the late Yusril for his dedication in building and strengthening Wanadri. “He was a senior activist who contributed significantly to Wanadri,” Fahrizal said.

 

The next day, they planted mahogany trees in the 12,470 hectare area. The denuded hills are important as upstream areas and as sources of water which are fed by the Cimanuk and Citrarum rivers. The river separates Bandung and the downstream areas in West Java’s Northern Coast.

 

People donated Rp50.000 per tree. “The donation is valid for five years. If the tree dies, they will get a replacement,” Fahrizal said. Yusril passed away on February 2 at 10.30 at the Mitra Keluarga International Hospital, Jakarta. Yusril, a founder of Tempo magazine, was buried at Pasar Senen Cemetery in Purwakarta. 

 

NANANG SUTISNA


Rp4,5 Billion To Anticipate Semeru Eruption

Monday, 16 March, 2009 | 16:57 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Malang:The Malang Disaster Management Team has called on people around Mount Semeru to be on alert following the intensified volcanic activity. “An early warning will be publicly announced if there are indications that the volcano will erupt,” said the team’s chief, Rendra Kresna, yesterday.

According to Rendra, staff of the geological disaster volcanic and mitigation center continue to monitor the volcano from six surrounding sub-districts. The Malang regency government has allocated Rp4,5 billion for the operation, which can be cashed at anytime.

EKO WIDIANTO

Govt gears up to limit free trade deal adversities

The Jakarta Post , JAKARTA | Mon, 03/16/2009 11:30 AM

Milking it all the way: A farmer milks a cow at his farm near Jl. Mampang Prapatan, South Jakarta, in this June 19, 2008, file photo. The Agriculture Ministry has proposed Rp 145 billion (US$12.18 million) this year from the stimulus package to boost the competitiveness of the country’s meat, milk and dairy businesses against foreign competitors, ministry officials said Saturday. (JP/J. Adiguna)

Indonesia is preparing massive financial and technical support for meat and tropical fruit businesses in a bid to cash in on ASEAN’s free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand.

The Agriculture Ministry’s director general of husbandry, Tjeppy D. Soedjana, said Saturday the ministry had proposed Rp 145 billion (US$12.18 million) this year from the stimulus package to boost competitiveness of the country’s meat, milk and dairy businesses against foreign competitors.

He added the businesses would face tougher challenges due to the recently inked free trade agreement (FTA) between ASEAN and Australia and New Zealand.

“The proposed stimulus will help local cattle farmers develop their businesses, while also preparing them to compete against imported products before the ASEAN FTA with Australia and New Zealand takes full effect,” Tjeppy said.

Under the FTA, Indonesia will completely slash its import duties on four beef products from the two countries by 2020 and on seven dairy products between 2017 and 2019.

Tjeppy said steps in preparing the farmers should be taken immediately from the upstream level of the cattle breeding sector.

“If the Finance Ministry approves the stimulus, not only we can cover domestic demand, but we can also compete with overseas products and even export our products,” he said.

He added the stimulus would take the form of loan interest subsidies for domestic cattle farmers under the existing cattle breeding business financing (KUPS) scheme.

“The KUPS scheme is pro-poor and intended for small cattle farmers,” he said, adding local farmers were currently breeding 10 million cows.

Besides the subsidy, the ministry will also help cattle breeders work with oil palm farmers to help provide sufficient feed for the cattle.

“A hectare of oil palm plantations can feed two to three cows. There are around 7 million hectares of plantations, which translates into feed for 21 million cows,” Tjeppy said.

He added Indonesia imported 30 percent of its meat demand annually, consisting of 450,000 cows for breeding and 150,000 tons of frozen meat, while importing 70 percent of its dairy demand.

Besides the meat and dairy businesses, the ministry will also help expand the export of tropical fruit to Australia and New Zealand under the FTA, which scraps import duties for horticultural produce.

Sri Kuntarsih, secretary of the Agriculture Ministry’s horticulture directorate general, said Indonesian fruit exports to Australia were limited because of strict quality inspection systems in place, which acted similar to non-tariff barriers.

She added that ever since the deal was signed, the ministry had submitted a proposal to the Australian Embassy in Jakarta regarding the possibility of exporting three types of produce: mangosteens, mangoes and onions.

“However, the embassy said we had to select only one for the time being. So we’ve decided to go with mangosteens,” she said.

“Australia has very high standards for the quality of agriculture produce. “This has been our main concern for not being able to enter their market sooner.”

Indonesia is targeting a 13 percent jump in horticulture exports worldwide this year to $411 million. (fmb/hdtw)

Plantation industry aims big despite economic crisis

The Jakarta Post, Bogor, West Java | Mon, 03/16/2009 11:36 AM

Betting on higher prices for top commodities and the emergence of new markets, the country’s plantation industry is seeking to buck the trend and expects export values this year to increase by 16 percent.

“We believe we can raise our income from exports to US$21.68 billion from last year’s $18.85 billion. This is based on the fact there are new markets available and we believe main commodities prices will improve,” Herdrajat, the Agriculture Ministry’s plantation protection director, said Saturday.

He cited China, the Middle East and India as some of the new export markets.

“Last year’s achievement, which surpassed the original target of $11.55 billion income set in early 2008, was also a big factor in our confidence to increase this year’s exports” he added.

Indonesia is home to plantations of some of the world’s key commodities, including crude palm oil (CPO), rubber and cocoa.

But since the second half of 2008, as the global economic turmoil kicked in, commodities-rich countries like Indonesia have been hit hard by a drop in demand and prices.

However, Herdrajat expected demand would pick up from the new markets, while commodity prices would also recover, providing an eventual boost for the industry.

Still, Herdrajat said it was vital for the government to immediately disburse the stimulus package, in particular the parts designated for the development of agriculture and plantation infrastructure.

“The industry needs the stimulus to improve irrigation and repair broken roads to enhance effectiveness and efficiency,” he said.|

Data from the ministry shows the government also plans to revitalize up to 290,000 hectares of CPO, cacao and rubber plantations in 27 provinces this year.

“[For the project] the government plans to give banking credit subsidies to support farmers in revitalizing the plantations,” Herdrajat said.

“We hope to encourage farmers to revitalize the plantations using the subsidy. We will also fund them for fertilizers in the first year, but we hope they can be self-sufficient in the following years.”

During revitalization, the plantations will not produce commodities for a few months while they are cleaned out.

“For that reason, the government will also give training programs on developing seasonal commodities for farmers to ensure their income during revitalization.”

Plantation revitalization and intensification, which has often caused a rift with other industries, is one of the main challenges the industry still has to face in the future.

“Often the local regent publishes two authorizations on land development for two different stakeholders. For instance, one is for the mining industry and the other for CPO plantations; this situation often causes conflicts,” he said.

“And most of the time, people regard mining as more important than plantations.”

The CPO industry, which absorbs around 3.7 million laborers, contributed around $10.7 billion to the country’s economy in 2008.

“With these training programs, we hope farmers will have more initiative to take action, not just wait for government officials to do the job for them,” Herdrajat said.

“We will also give them technical training on plantation development, sanitation and fertilizing techniques.” (hdt)

Plantation exports (in US$ billion)

Year Target Realization

2007 11.25 14.64

2008 11.55 18.85

2009 21.68 --

Source: Agriculture Ministry


Indonesia must boost palm yields to save forests

By Aloysius Bhui and Ed Davies, Reuters, Mon Mar 16, 2009 7:14am EDT

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia needs to squeeze far higher yields from existing palm oil plantations rather than open up more land in a country with some of the world's swiftest deforestation, a Greenpeace official said on Monday.

Indonesia, the world's top palm oil producer, yields only about 2 tonnes per hectare from its plantations, or just a third of the 6 to 7 tonnes in countries such as Malaysia with better estate management practices, said Annette Cotter, campaign manager for the forests campaign in Greenpeace Southeast Asia.


A view of a destroyed rainforest in Kotawaringin Timur district in Indonesia's central Kalimantan province, October 9, 2007. REUTERS/Hardi Baktiantoro

"What's interesting about palm oil in Indonesia is that the current plantations actually yield a very, very poor return," Cotter said, speaking as part of the Reuters Food and Agriculture Summit.

Indonesia has 7.1 million hectares, or 17.5 million acres of palm oil estates, with smallholders accounting for about 35 percent, but is looking to expand further.

In a controversial move, Indonesia's agriculture ministry said last month it would allow 8 percent of its 25 million hectares of peatlands, which harbor huge carbon stocks, to be used for palm oil, ending a freeze on permits dating from December 2007.

"You don't need to expand into further forest and further peatland to get increased economic benefits from palm oil," said Cotter, calling the move to end the freeze on peatlands "a total disaster."

Up to 84 percent of Indonesia's carbon emissions come from deforestation, forest fires and peatland degradation, a report sponsored by the World Bank and Britain's Department for International Development says.

"So what you've got is a situation of relatively poor management of existing plantations and you've got companies looking for further expansion to increase production but not looking at increasing productivity in existing estates," said Cotter, who has spent 12 years at Greenpeace with time in Brazil monitoring Amazon forests.

By boosting existing estates' productivity, Indonesia would "go a very long way to increasing production and increasing therefore Indonesia's exports," she added.

GREEN PALM OIL?

Under fire from green groups and consumers, the palm oil industry set up a Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2004, to develop an ethical certification system, with commitment to save rainforests and wildlife.

One of Indonesia's top palm companies, PT Musim Mas, was its first to be certified by RSPO in January.

Cotter called RSPO a "toothless tiger" that has failed to seriously curb deforestation.

"They (RSPO) need to prove that they are actually committed to their principles before we can say they are actually doing a good job," she added.

The global financial crisis was delaying planned palm oil expansion and showing up its flaws, she added.

"What palm oil is being sold as is the green gold, but it's another classic boom and bust industry," said Cotter, noting that a collapse in palm oil prices late last year led to job losses and fruit rotting on trees.

BIOFUEL THREAT

The growing trend of palm oil use in biofuel also threatened conservation and food security, Cotter said.

Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's top two palm oil producers, have made the use of palm-based biodiesel mandatory from this year.

Cotter said biofuel could be looked at for development only after food security issues had been addressed, and principles of sustainable agriculture enforced.

"But that's not the case we are in at the moment."

Sharp drops in global food prices, including palm oil, have temporarily eased concerns over food security.

"If you look where the trends are going internationally with palm oil it's focusing more and more on biofuels and less and less on food," she said.

"And so you're actually going to see in the future questions around food security."

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)