Indonesia plans to import 100,000 tonnes of potassium-based fertiliser from Slovakia next year to boost food production, the official Antara news agency reported on October 12.
"We have discussed with Slovakia the prospects for importing fertiliser. Slovakia has said it will be able to export 100,000 tonnes," Agriculture Minister Soleh Salahudin was quoted as saying on October 12. Salahudin said the government had decided to import potassium chloride because the present domestic stocks estimated at 60,000 tonnes were not enough.
"If negotiations are smooth, it (the import) will be done in 1999. The fertiliser will be allocated for five million hectares of land during one planting season," he said. Antara gave no further details.
An agriculture ministry official said on October 12 the potassium-based fertiliser was effective in improving the quality of grains, adding that Indonesia had not been able to produce this type of fertiliser.
The U.S. Agriculture Department said in a report early this month that Indonesia's use of potassium chloride, which is key to plant strength and kernel size, was reduced by as much as 85% in recent months because the economic crisis had made imports expensive.
It said there had been a reduction in the use of fertilisers and pesticides because of the dramatic increase in costs.
Indonesia plans to boost food production by expanding plantation areas in several parts of the archipelago. Last month, the government allowed the private sector to import rice for the first time in three decades to help with a shortage of the staple. The country's total rice imports in the 1998/99 fiscal year (April/March) could reach 6.58 million tonnes, the government said.