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UFSI Rep. 1985;(32):1-9.

Going back to Java.



In Indonesia, achievements in food production have helped lower the country's deaths rates and increase life expectancy, making concern about the birthrate all the more critical, particularly in the already crowded Java. Indonesia's rice production in 1985 is expected to reach 26.3 million tons, 58% more than the 1975-79 average. With every country except Malaysia now self-sufficient or surplus in rice, the world market price for rice has dropped markedly. Indonesia's National Logistics Board (BULOG), which aims to establish a floor price for rice, has had to stockpile 3.5 million tons, double its normal reserve and enough for 3 years. Some of it has been kept 2 years already, but it cannot be exported as the quality is low and everybody else also has plenty of rice. Peasants and agriculture experts agree that alternatives to rice pose greater risks in terms of weather and disease. Whatever the government does, rice prices have dropped sharply and are likely to stay down. Fertilizer use can also be expected to decline for the 1st time in years. Indonesia is the scene of a scientific breakthrough, a new hybrid seed corn that grows in the tropics. If seed companies are able to sell seed for half of Indonesia's existing corn acreage, this would be an increase of 1.3 million tons, which would mostly be a surplus to be used for export, processing, or increased human or animal consumption. In revisiting Indonesia, the biggest dissapointment is the failure of family planning to slow the rate of population growth more drastically. 5 years ago, Indonesia's family planning program, started in 1970, appeared a great success. Countrywide, the proportion of women aged 15-44 using contraceptives increased from almost nothing to almost 40% and in Bali topped 60%. Indonesia's overall annual population growth rate had dropped to 1.7%, raising hopes it could be brought down to the 1.2% rate of East Java and Bali by 1985. What has happended instead is that an unexpectedly fast decline in the death rate, especially in infant mortality, and an increase in life expectancy have meant a rise in annual overall growth back to the present 1.9-2.2%. Despite the present disappointment, Indonesia's government-sponsored family planning campaigns have shown how village culture can be harnessed to promote change.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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