JAKARTA—Program Upland Project from the Directorate General of Infrastructure and Facilities of the Ministry of Agriculture has successfully brought fried onion products from farmers in Sumenep Regency, East Java, to be marketed in the Netherlands. Upland Project manager of the Ministry of Agriculture, Farakka Sari, in a written statement received in Jakarta on Friday (15/12/2023) said that six thousand packs of fried onion products were sent in the inaugural export.
He said that the Upland Project will continue to intensify the export of processed food commodities as it can provide more economic value for agricultural produce. “The Upland activities also aim to support the sustainability of the onion agribusiness through the presence of good institutions,” said Farakka.
The fried onions produced by the farmer groups affiliated with the Farmer-Owned Enterprise (BUMP) of PT Pertama Indah Rubaru (PIR) has been contracted for 400,000 US dollars by PT Ben Helen Trading Netherlands for a period of five years from 2023 to 2028.
He hopes that the Ministry of Agriculture’s Upland Project program can continue to increase agricultural activities in the highlands to be more comprehensive, starting from the development of horticulture and food crops.
“Increasing productivity is essential. Upland Project can have a positive impact, such as achieving self-sufficiency in onions,” he said.
In an effort to encourage this, the Ministry of Agriculture provides assistance in land infrastructure, irrigation, and farmer roads. All of this is aimed at increasing production.
In 2021, Sumenep Regency continued to strive to increase shallot productivity. The planting area has increased significantly since the presence of Upland Project, from 701 hectares in 2020 with a productivity of 7.02 tons per hectare to 1,198 hectares in 2022 with a productivity of 7.36 tons per hectare.
Currently, not only international markets have collaborated with the Rubaru Farmers Corporation, but several national companies have also established cooperation, including PT Eden Pangan Indonesia.
Sumenep Regent Achmad Fauzi, who attended the inaugural export event, expressed his appreciation for the Ministry of Agriculture’s Upland Project, which actively promotes agriculture in Sumenep to be better by increasing productivity and income for farmers.
He assesses that the Upland Project has successfully implemented an integrated agricultural system that aligns the upstream (on farm) and post-harvest (off farm) sectors.
In addition to production, the Upland Project also ensures that farmers can get the best sales results, thereby increasing their income.
The Ministry of Agriculture has also given hope to farmers. Red onions are expected to become one of the exemplary agricultural products for export.
“This is a pilot project. Rubaru red onions have the advantage of being tolerant to Fusarium sp and Spodoptera exigua, and can adapt to elevations of 10-500 meters,” he said.
The inaugural export of fried onions mark the beginning of increased welfare for farmers. Fauzi hopes that farmers can maintain their spirit so that the production and quality of red onions can be maintained to meet the export needs.
“This opportunity is the beginning of providing welfare to farmers, so we must focus on the quality and packaging of the product,” said Fauzi.
With the entry of fried onion products in the market in the Netherlands, it is expected to open the door for collaboration with other countries such as Belgium, England, and others.
Previously, Minister of Agriculture Andi Amran Sulaiman revealed that the world is currently facing a food crisis due to the impact of climate change. Various commodities that are vulnerable to inflation must be given special attention. Post-harvest processing such as fried onions provides added value to food products.
“The world is currently facing a food crisis. It is important for us to continue to commit to maintaining the supply of strategic commodities to prevent price fluctuations and shortages in the market,” said Amran.