Bin Ladin Group to Invest in Food Production in West Java

Tempo | Wednesday, 08 October, 2008


TEMPO Interactive, Bandung: West Java governor Ahmad Heryawan said his province will become one of the many regions targeted by the Binladin Group for investment. The Saudi Arabian company is interested in investing in food production.

Heryawan confirmed this after his meeting with Indonesian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Salim Segaf al-Jufri at the Pakuan building in Bandung yesterday. “Their request was very specific, which is food,” Heryawan said.

However, according to Heryawan there are still obstacles in the investment, relating to the government’s ban on rice exports in order to secure domestic food supply. Heryawan said he had discussed the matter with Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono. “It would not be an issue so long as the investor develops the business on their own lands,” Heryawan said.

He was referring to agricultural lands that have been converted to industrial and housing estates. Bin Laden’s investment will allow a surplus in rice production at the same time increase export opportunities, and open up agricultural lands that had previously been in decline. “There is a big chance for opening up new lands,” he added.

Moreover, there are still thousands of hectares of open and unmanaged agricultural lands. These areas, like in South Cianjur, Garut, Ciamis, South Sukabumi, and Tasikmalaya can be prepared for new investment. Heryawan claimed that he had spoken with Tasikmalaya regent Tatang Farhanul Hakim concerning the matter.

Tatang is willing to open up 30.000 hectares of land. However, it will require extra resources, given the existing minimum irrigation system. Heryawan said the irrigation systems urgently need repairs.

Ambassador Salim Segaf al-Jufri confirmed that his visit to Bandung was to discuss this investment possibility. “West Java is a very promising area,” he said.

According to Salim, the Bin Ladin Group has allocated US$ 4 billion to invest in food production in Indonesia. The Group has confirmed that they will invest in Merauke and South East and North Sulawesi. The company’s technical team will soon arrive in West Java to conduct a series of feasibility studies.

So far, Salim said, the selected areas require infrastructure development. “The areas which might be ready to operate are in Central and North Sulawesi, perhaps West Java as well,” he said.

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