Indonesia parties woo voters with "super" rice

Mon Apr 6, 2009 12:03pm EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Fitri Wulandari and Telly Nathalia

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia's political parties are turning to high-yielding rice seeds to woo an agriculture-based electorate in this year's parliamentary and presidential elections.

Rice isn't just an important part of Indonesian cuisine -- Indonesians say you haven't eaten unless your meal includes rice -- it's also embedded in the cultural consciousness in a land of 226 million people.

Two out of every five people in the 108 million-strong labor force works in the agricultural sector.

Megawati Sukarnoputri's PDI-P party has launched its own variety of "MSP" rice: that stands for "Mari Sejahterakan Petani" or "let's improve the welfare of farmers," but it's no coincidence those are the initials of the former president.

MSP has a yield of up to 12 tons per hectare, according to PDIP's website, compared with 5 tons for normal varieties.

"These seeds are a contribution from PDI-P to Indonesia's farmers," said Pramono Anung, PDI-P's secretary general, according to the party website, while he was campaigning last week in Blitar, East Java.

Blitar, a PDI-P stronghold, is where Megawati's father, the late first president Soekarno, is buried.

Not to be outdone in the political battle for farmers, a group of supporters of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, well ahead of Megawati in the opinion polls, has developed Supertoy rice, which also yields 12 tons per hectare.   Continued...

<p>A worker checks ballot papers before distributing them to the districts in Surabaya of Indonesia's East Java province April 6, 2009. REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas</p>