Prospect for maize-based agribusiness in Indonesia is bright, considering that up to present Indonesia is importing significant amount of this multiple usage commodity to satisfy its domestic demand. In 2011, Indonesia spend more than USD 1 billion for importing maize, both for food industries and for animal feed, but not for biofuel. Since Indonesia has been a net petroleum importer, it is probable that maize also be used for production of bioethanol in the future. Even though, cassava might be economically more feasible for bioethanol production in the tropics. Nevertheless, three possible usages of maize as food crop, animal feed, and raw material for biofuel are major advantage for selecting this crop.
Main physical limitation in developing agricultural activities in Indonesia is limited infrastructure network, especially land transportation. To overcome the possibly high transportation cost for the bulky commodity produced, it could be solved by including on-site processing industry; therefore, only high-value, small-volume processed products will be transported out of the site. In this scenario, technology will play its role!
Future maize-based agribusiness should not be designed to transport corn ears out of the field, except for sweet corn for fresh market, or export corn grains, but be better off doing upstream and downstream activities on-site and transporting out only value added products such as corn flake, corn syrup, poultry feed, bioethanol, or even pharmaceutical proteins.
As of any other agricultural activities, on-farm maize-based agribusiness will also face serious agronomic and climatic challenges, now and even more in the future. Land and water availabilities will become less and less. Portions of agricultural lands are continuously converted for other purposes and some are degradated due to chemical contamination or serious mismanagement, as also happens to water. Climate changes become harder to predict and frequency of crop damages due to climate extremes increase. Technology has to catch up with these challenges.
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