Australia and Indonesian governments have agreed to implement practical and financial incentives to encourage Australian agricultural companies to invest capital and technical expertise in the cattle industry in Indonesia.
Indonesia anticipates that Australian capital and know-how in the sector will provide economic development to Sumba Island, which has a cultural history of stockmanship and husbandry for both cattle and horses.
Bio-farm Plantation, a Taiwanese company cattle company, is leading the way with investment in grazing land in East Sumba. Australian beef producer are planning to soon follow.
”There is so much empty land in the eastern province”, said one regional leader this week. We firmly believes in the potential for a booming livestock industry in Sumba. ”It has very big potential,” he says. “The need is certainly apparent, but challenges exist”.
Modern ranching techniques and sustainable development are no mystery; they require systematic implementation regionally. Top soil, irrigation and ground water are in adequate supply. Good livestock is already in place. A wee bit of selective breading would do wonders.
Rainfall is adequate; storage and water management could make a huge difference. “Let’s look at water management policies abroad. The Israelis grow fruit in the bloody Sahara Desert!”
We are confident that there is enough good land, goodwill and potential to sustain tens of thousands of head of cattle in eastern Sumba. ”There are 400,000 hectares of pasture land; it should not be too much of an issue to attract ranching investments,” he said.
Joni, a cattleman in the village of Napu, would like to see a bigger industry. ”It is good land,” he says. “We know we could do things much better with a little help from abroad.” Joni wrangles fifty head of cattle; a nice size herd. A small investment in technique and capital would make Joni a contender.
Sumba Island is standing on the cusp of Bali style tourist development. It may be prudent to put some planning and a few pennies into the local agri-economy too. Many are persuaded it will prove to be a great investment.