Friday, March 25, 2011

Technical Visit to Semarang , Indonesia

This is my second visit to Indonesia. My first visit was  two years ago i.e. Jakarta and Bandung. I would like to see their living style,social,culture and landscape in the country. I noticed that Indonesia is a beautiful country blended with many types people of all kinds.Each country has their own strength and niche. I presume that the competition between each other  in this country is much greater  than mine.
Back to my visit to Semarang was a fruitful one where I was brought to see farms around Curuj, Ngebrug and also farms organised by Obor Tani in Wakanarto and Genting.

In Curuj, we visited a 700 acre- clove plantation called Cengkih Zanzibar owned by Pak Budi. During my visit, most of the plants were 10-15 years old  with heigth of 3 to 5 meters. One problem I noticed is picking the flowers  during harvesting. It requires about 3,000 workers to pluck all the flowers during that time in the entire farm. Most of the clove flowers were consumed by the cigarettes company. From agronomic perspectives, the farm should find ways of how to improve production, let say high density planting, mechanization and so forth.

I also visited a distillation unit nearby which extract clove oil. Matured and dried  cloves leaves were brought to the unit then boiled later, then the steam was cooled in a pond and condensed. The oil was separated and collected in containers arranged cascadingly.

There was also  has a dragon fruit which consisted of about 2 hectares in Curuj. The growth of the plants is extremely good with good agro-management and maintenance, however the fruits is still small i.e. 300 gm . What I noticed is that organic fertilization should be increased and given at least once in three month (3 kg) because dragon is a heavy feeder, if  this is not given then flowering and yield decreased. Since this field is free from diseases , then the planting materials can be used as cuttings in other farms. They
should follow the technical specifications in the guidelines which I had passed to them.

I also visited an agro tourism farm in Plantera where many types of fruits were planted. Fruits like durian, longan (mata kucing-Nephelium ), anona, dragon fruits, pomelo, rambutans were planted. We were brought in a tram assisted with their staffs. My observations was that the durians were infected by Phytopthora disease which very common in durians. They have taken preventions using copper fungicides but some branches were still infected. Infected branches or stems should scrapped off and cleaned, then paint with Bordeaux mixture. Organic fertilizer should also be improved.
As far as dragon fruit is concerned, about 30-50% of the farm is infected with diseases.Common disease like bacteria and fungus were obeserved and also yield was low.Stern actions should be taken like increase organic fertilization and foliar

applications as the plants branches were not thick and less green compared from previous farm in Curuj.

For mata kucing or longan, generally the growth is still ok, however I noticed there symptoms of leaf falling, dryness and yellowing. I suspected the roots must be infected by diseases, nematodes or whats not. The infected tree should be uprooted to see what is the real cause of infection.
As for anona, there are plants which is less growth as shown in reduced leaf numbers.Leaf foliar analysis should be done in order to ascertain the problems.

Then, I went to Wakarnoto which is 3 hour journey from Semarang. This is a 50 acre farm will be planted with dragon fruits that will be planted by farmers. ( I don't know where will they get cutting planting materials). The land has been cleaned and pillars will be installed. What I noticed is that nearby trees should be cut as dragon fruits need 100% sunlight. Although the land is fertile but organic fertilization is still needed 3 month once. A reservoir on top of a hill had already been built by Yayasan Obor Tani where there are plentiful of water.


I also had the chance to go to Genting,where a successful  50-acre longan project owned by farmers.The farmers were proud to show their farms. During my visit, the plants were not bearing fruits.We were also shown home-based products like fried-mushrooms made by fellow farmers

Finally, we go to Hortimart a fruit farm owned personnally by Pak Budi. A place where you can eat fruits and lunch. I was given a chance to talk on dragon fruits and share knowledge and ideas pertaining to this industry together with the chiefs, growers there.

I also went to Jogjakarta to see Chandi Borobodur, a world heritage. Besides, I also saw debris of the volcanic ash of Gunung Merapi which erupted a few  months ago and houses which had been damaged very badly.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Technical Visit to a 65-acre Dragon Fruit Plantation In Sibu, Sarawak

I had the chance to visit to one of the biggest dragon fruit plantation in Sibu, Sarawak, East Malaysia. My visit was welcomed by its farm's owner Mr. Yong Ung Tung. The purpose of my visit is a) to observe general performance of the 65-acre farm. b) to identify some problems occurred in the farm and c) to make some remedifications (if any) concerning to my findings.

Here are my findings.

1.The farm is badly affected by soft rot diseases caused mainly by bacteria and fungus. However, the main disease  such as antrachnose has been controlled entirely with good spraying practice with correct chemical application.
2.Farm sanitation is good where all the discarded branches and plant parts which have pruned were thrown away far from the farm. This farm had 20 workers with a supervisor.
3.The farm use fertilization with NPK ratios 15:15:15  which is not suitable for a 6-year plants. This might affect mainly flowering and fruiting.
4.Most of the farm were installed with lightings that is cost MR 4,000 per month only to enhance flowering.
5.There are a lot of weeds and some plants suffered from nutrient deficiency such nitrogen (N).

My suggestions.

1. Fertilization with NPK 12:12:17:2 is recommended and flower hormone is needed to improve flowering and fruiting as well to reduce high lighting cost.
2.Organic fertilizer is needed is to improve tree performance in some areas.
3.Continue with good farm practice and farm surveillance is encouraged for early disease detection.
4.Should the farm is required to sell planting materials, it should follow strictly guidelines recommended by Malaysian Standards (SIRIM).The area should be disease-free and verified.
5.Engage an expert to advise if the farm is to be sustained.

My colleagues Dr.Zainal, Wan Zaki, My self (in red T-shirt) and Mr.Ung Tung

 Mr.Ung Tung,owner of 65-acre dragon fruit farm

General view of the farm

Mr.Kok Peng (Ah Beng,from Penang), Dr.Zainal , Mr.Ung Tung and My Self (in red)
Significant effects of lighting which improve dragon fruit yield.
Product of the farm labelled "Planters Harvest"

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