INDONESIA: Astra Agro to expand into rubber plantations

Astra Agro director Santosa said that the company would seek 2,000 hectares for a new rubber plantation, which is less than the land needed for an oil palm plantation.

"We are studying the plans. If we find that the business will benefit us, we will look for the land next year,” Santosa said, declining to say where the firm would look for the land.

Astra Agro, a 79.7 percent owned subsidiary of diversified conglomerate PT Astra International,
also has plans to open sugarcane plantations, Santosa said.

"It's quite difficult to find 5,000 hectares for an oil palm plantation. Therefore, we have reviewed [ideas for] rubber and sugarcane plantations, which need less space.”

While Santosa declined to specify how much Astra Agro's would spend to develop its planned 2,000 hectare rubber plantation, he said that the expenditure would be added to the firm's planned capital expenditures budget of around US$250 million for 2013.

The company now operates on 269,000 hectares, including 35,000 hectares of unplanted areas that need development to be productive. Around 42 percent of the firm's land is located in Kalimantan.

Source: Daily "The Jakarta Post", Jakarta; 4 Nov 2012

(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)