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NEWS ADMIN

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

DATE

21/09/2004

NEWS PROVIDER

Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani

NEWS SOURCE

Dow Jones

CATEGORY

HEADLINE

Indonesia's Astra Agro Jan-Aug CPO Exports More Th
17/09/04 JAKARTA (Dow Jones)--Indonesia's PT Astra Agro Lestari Fridaysaid its crude palm oil exports more than doubled in the first eightmonths of this year on the back of robust production.CPO exports totaled 231,672 metric tons in the January-August period,up sharply from 100,604 tons in the same period last year.The company said increased CPO production at its plantations hadenabled it to meet rising demand from foreign buyers."Our oil palm trees have entered the prime production age of anaverage of 10 years. We have more CPO to meet increasing export demand,"said Tjahyo Dwi Ariantono, the company official for investor relations.Oil palm trees reach their maximum output of fruit, from which palmoil is made, between their ninth and 15th year.PT Astra sells palm oil mostly to buyers in India, Malaysia, Vietnamand the Netherlands.Tjahyo said the company's total sales volume rose to 463,622 tons inthe first eight months of this year from 343,309 tons in the same periodlast year.CPO production during that period totaled 508,064 tons, up 33% from382,081 tons a year earlier, he said.The company is on track to reach its production target of 750,000 tonsfor this year, Tjahyo said. Last year, the company produced 633,425 tonsof CPO.Between 40% and 45% of the company's annual output is exported."We expect production to grow by 15% next year as more oil palm treesreach production maturity," Tjahyo said.To increase CPO production, he said, the company plans to expand itsplantation area by 5,000 hectares every year, adding to an existing191,600 hectares"We have up to 20,000 hectares of land that we haven't planted withoil palm. We will plant the area within the next four years," Tjahyo said.A greater supply of high-quality oil palm seeds will help support theexpansion plan, he said.The Ministry of Agriculture has said that the number of companiessupplying high-quality seeds doubled to six this year.PT Astra said its average price realization from CPO sales improved to3,899 rupiah ($1=IDR9,025) a kilogram in the first eight months fromIDR3,333/kg a year earlier as result of higher world CPO and soybean oilprices.World CPO prices during the same period have risen 11% to $492 a ton,while those for soybean oil are up 15.9% at $624/ton, the company said.Indonesia is the second-largest producer of CPO after Malaysia, withproduction expected to reach 11 million tons this year.Earlier this week, the government said it expects Indonesian CPOproduction to reach 12 million tons next year, matching production inMalaysia for the first time. The area under cultivation in Indonesia hasbeenincreasing steadily in recent years, while Malaysia has faced a shortageof land to expand acreage. Much of the increase in Malaysian production inrecent years has been achieved through more efficient practices that haveproduced higher yields.