In order to develop the economic potential of the people in Riau Province, especially coconut plantations, the Riau Province Government through the Research and Development Planning Agency (Bappedalitbang) held a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) with the International Coconut Community (ICC), at the Bappedalitbang Office, Riau, on Wednesday 26 January 2022. Head of Riau Bappedalitbang, Ir. Emri Juli Harnis, M.T, Ph.D. said that the Riau Provincial Government has the greatest potential in the field of the largest coconut plantations in Indonesia. Riau is the largest coconut-producing area in Indonesia. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the agricultural sector in Indonesia still showed positive growth. This is a potential that needs to be developed related to the potential possessed by Riau Province, especially coconut.
To optimize coconut development in Riau Province, the Riau Provincial Government invited the ICC in this FGD to get an updated picture of the condition of coconut plantations in Indonesia and Riau in particular, the constraints, opportunities and development potential, so that Riau coconut can become an economic commodity that does not only benefit the local community, but can also open a network of cooperation to become actors in the coconut industry in Indonesia and the world. Through this meeting, the Riau Provincial Government also wants to get input, so that it can develop an action plan on how the pattern of developing coconut plantations in Riau Province will go in the future. In addition to presenting the ICC Executive Director, Jelfina Constansje Alouw, this activity was also attended by the Head of Cooperation and Utilization of Research Results (KSPHP) of the Plantation Research and Development Center, Tedy Dirhamsyah.
Riau Province is an area that has the largest coconut plantation area in Indonesia. The area of commodity plantations in Riau Province reaches 3,731,183 hectares. Of the plantation area, 426,579 hectares are coconut plantations. The area of coconut plantations in Riau is 11.4 percent of the total plantation area of several commodities in Riau. Of this area, young coconut plantations are 22,201 hectares. While mature coconut plantations are 332,281 hectares, and old senile palm plantations, which is one of the main challenges in Riau, are 72,097 hectares.
In his speech, the Governor of Riau Drs. H. Syamsuar, M.Si. said "We invite the Executive Director of ICC to together with us examine the constraints, potentials and opportunities of Riau coconut. This is so that it can become an economic commodity that not only benefits our local people, but Riau can become a coconut industry player in Indonesia and the world."
Riau has very open opportunities for the development of coconut potential. As an area that has the largest coconut area in Indonesia, it is the biggest potential that needs to be utilized optimally. However, the downstream as an industrial commodity is a challenge faced by local governments, because Riau is still the only supplier of coconut. In fact, the opportunities for processed coconut products with high added value such as coir, shells, coconut drinks, coconut milk, and others are still very wide open.
For that, according to Mr. Syamsuar, it is necessary to increase the capacity of Riau coconut farmers and to seize export marketing opportunities, through collaboration with ICC. "We hope that ICC can support us in product marketing and downstream product development from coconut. This includes helping farmers capacity development in coconut cultivation," explained Syamsuar.
ICC Executive Director, Dr. Jelfina C. Alouw, appreciates Syamsuar's passion for coconut development in Riau, “I am proud of the Governor of Riau who wants to focus on coconut farming. We really appreciate it.” Dr. Jelfina mentioned that the Governor's invitation to come directly to Riau to examine the potential of coconut after the online meeting was a quick step for the Governor of Riau to seize the opportunity. "I appreciate the fast movement, the smart movement is very strategic. I am happy with the style of the Governor of Riau who wants to take action to ask us for the ICC to come here. ICC is ready to help in product promotion, facilitate capacity development, and transfer technology," Dr. Jelfina concluded.