SUKABUMI (WEST JAVA) - SWITCHING from planting carrots to growing cassava is a big risk for farmer Uyuh, 63.
'I hope the prediction that my singkong will be in greater demand for the bahan bakar nabati is true,' he said in the Sundanese dialect at his plot in Cicurug village near Sukabumi town.
Mr Uyuh is among a growing number of farmers in the village who began growing singkong, or cassava, for biofuel, known here as bahan bakar nabati, early this year. 'We were told that our singkong can fetch a higher price now because there is a demand for the crop to be processed into fuel,' he said as he cleared his tiny plot, which is the size of two basketball courts.
Several years ago, he had planted cassava to feed his family of four and to sell to factories that made the local snack tapai (fermented tapioca cake) or crackers. But he stopped growing it as he could not sell it for more than 70 rupiah (1 Singapore cent) per kg.
'Now, some of my neighbours are selling their cassava at between 500 rupiah and 700 rupiah per kg,' he said.
Their buyers include traders who resell the cassava to ethanol producers and snack factories.
A plant has already been set up nearby by a Jakarta businessman to produce ethanol which, Mr Uyuh said, is being sold as premium petrol to motorcyclists in the village.
'I hope to sell my crop to this plant when it is ready for harvest later this year,' he said.