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New Breakthrough May Mean Cheaper, Greener Fertilizer for Indonesian Farmers - Jakarta Globe
Last modified: 2010-03-26 18:57:21

In a bid to help repair soil damaged by overuse of chemical fertilizers, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences has launched microbe-based ‘Beyonic' technology to be used in the production of organic fertilizers.

Endang Sukara, deputy head of biological sciences at the institute, known as LIPI, said on Friday that technology had led to positive changes in the agricultural industry through the introduction of chemical fertilizers, but that same technology was also the primary cause of environmental damage.

"Magic seeds and magic chemicals introduced to our farmers as part of the green revolution did increase productivity, especially for rice. But this program, as a whole, has disrupted the agricultural system in the country," Endang said.

"As a result of the green revolution our endemic seeds have gradually perished and our farmers' local wisdom is no longer relevant. And worst of all, the quality of our land is deteriorating."

Under the green revolution, which boomed in the 1960s, the country saw a significant increase in agricultural productivity resulting from the introduction of high-yield varieties of grains, the use of pesticides, and improved management techniques.

"Because of this movement our farmers, until now, have become so dependent on chemical fertilizers that they must allocate most of what they earn to buy the increasingly expensive fertilizers produced by big companies," he said.

Thus, Endang said, the use of organic fertilizers would exponentially reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides among farmers. The other major benefits would be lower production costs and the reduced CO emissions of fertilizer manufacturers.

Beyonic itself stands for beyond bio-organic and uses microbes to repair damaged soil. Researchers used endemic microbes cultured at the institute's culture collection center, home to nearly 20,000 kinds of microbes.

"This Beyonic technology is pro-poor, pro-jobs and pro-green because we want to help farmers reduce their production costs. And at the same time they help us all to conserve the ecosystem and the environment," Endang said.

"And we decided on microbes because this is a safe and a good alternative in making fertilizer and this technology can be adopted by small- to medium-sized farmers so that they can be self-dependent. They don't have to depend on chemical fertilizers or organic ones produced by the big manufacturers," he said.

For 2010, the government has allocated a subsidy of Rp 11.86 trillion ($1.26 billion) for the production of 11.76 million tons of organic fertilizer. But the subsidy has largely been enjoyed by the big producers with little benefit for the farmers.

Many organic fertilizers were produced domestically and readily available but Beyonic was superior, Endang said.  "Microbes work effectively to stabilize the acid balance, nitrogen supply, phosphates and minerals, and also dissolve pollutants in the damaged soil," Endang said.

Meanwhile, State Minister of Research and Technology Suharna Surapranata said during the launch of Beyonic on Saturday that this innovation should be applied immediately by various technical departments so that Indonesia need no longer rely on foreign industries.

"If there were to be no synergy between such a beneficial technology and technical departments, it would be useless," state news agency Antara quoted the minister as saying.

In a related development, Kompas reported that LIPI had received several requests from regional administrations hoping to adopt Beyonic technology to restore environmental damage caused by mining exploration.

February 05, 2010 - The Jakarta Globe

Keywords: Beyonic, Jakarta globe, organic, fertilizer, production costs, subsidy, green revolution
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