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Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani




Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani


Dow Jones



Indonesian Indus, Govt Downplay Quake Impact On Pa
30/03/05 JAKARTA (Dow Jones)--Government and industry officials inIndonesia Tuesday sought to downplay concerns that a massive earthquakethat struck overnight may affect the country's agricultural output.In a statement, the Ministry of Agriculture office said it is tooearly to say what impact Monday's earthquake, which struck off the westerncoast of Sumatra island, might have on agriculture output.The agriculture sector accounts for around 15% of Indonesia's grossdomestic product."We haven't received any reports of damage in plantations due to theearthquake," said U.K. Anggoro, director of plantation development at theministry.Industry groups said that while reports of damage - if any - onplantations or the transportation network in North Sumatra are still notavailable, they believe supply of key agricultural commodities such ascoffee, rubber and palm oil will be unaffected."It may have damaged one or two palm oil refineries, but theearthquake is unlikely to have damaged palm plantations," said DeromBangun, chairman of the Indonesian Palm Oil Exporters Association, orGapki.The quake won't have any impact on the country's overall crude palm oiloutput, Derom added.CPO in Medan was traded higher at IDR3,871 a kilogram Tuesday, up fromIDR3,802/kg Thursday, because of a weakening rupiah and strong demand fromthe local market, traders said.So far, the earthquake hasn't affected the supply of CPO fromplantations to Medan, traders added.The epicenter of the 8.7-magnitude quake was 90 kilometers south ofthe island of Simeulue, off Sumatra's western coast and just north ofNias. The quake hit a little before midnight local time and was thelargest aftershock following the9.0-magnitude quake that spawned a deadly tsunami that swept across theIndian Ocean Dec. 26. The quake was felt as far away as Thailand, Malaysiaand Singapore.The Hong Kong Observatory reported that a quake of 5.7 magnitude alsostruck the area Tuesday morning.The Richter scale measurements of the two earthquakes - 9.0 versus 8.7- appear close, but the difference in strength is considerable. As theRichter scale is a logarithmic scale, an earthquake that measures 9.0 is10 times larger than one that measures 8.0.The country's largest producers of crude palm oil and rubber are allbased in North Sumatra province, which accounts for roughly 24% and 20% ofIndonesia's rubber and CPO output, respectively.Shipping activity at Belawan port in Medan hasn't been affected by thequake, an official said."The earthquake caused panic for a while, but it didn't damage anyfacilities at the port," said Amsar, a traffic control official at Belawanport. "Loading and unloading activities are normal."Located 26 kilometers north of Medan, the capital of North Sumatraprovince, Belawan port is the largest port for exports of Indonesia's keycommodities such as crude palm oil, coffee, rubber and tobacco.Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has postponed a plannedvisit Wednesday to Australia and said he would fly to Nias to assess thedamage there."The president would like to find out the extent of the damage andcasualties," presidential spokesman Andi Malarangeng told The AssociatedPress.