Agriculture remains the basis of the Indonesian economy, employing over half of the active population, even if it participates for less than a seventh in the formation of the national product (13.4% in 2005). The incidence of the sector in the production of the country’s wealth has undergone various fluctuations during the twentieth century, but apart from a slight increase in the years following the economic and financial crisis of 1997, its weight remains in constant decline. Food crops are those that have registered the most significant increases, also thanks to the agricultural development plans promoted by the government to make land located in the less densely populated islands arable to face the competition exerted by countries dedicated to the intensive practice of cereals, such as Japan. and China: it is calculated, in fact, that only a small part of the land suitable for cultivation is used for this purpose. Industrial crops, on the other hand, very flourishing during the colonial period, have lost some of their previous primates; they represent only 13% of agricultural land, perhaps also due to the fragmentation of land ownership and the conformation of the territory, which is uneven and fragmented. The main crop is rice, a fundamental element of the local diet; on 60% of cultivated land, approx. 7% is destined for rice cultivation, which places Indonesia in third place in the world ranking for rice production after China and India. Thanks to government incentives, the country has changed from being an importer to an exporter of rice. The highest productivity values are recorded in Java, which takes advantage of suitable land and a dense network of canals inherited from the Dutch. Rice growing is also present in vast areas of Sumatra and Kalimantan (Borneo), as well as in various smaller islands; however, agricultural mechanization is still at a very low level, and if in Java rice cultivation is practiced by flooding the land, in the other islands the most frequent practice continues to be itinerant alternation (ladang). The picture of the main food crops is completed by maize, the second crop produced in the country (especially in the western part of Java, in the Sunda islands and in Celebes), cassava, sweet potatoes, then various vegetables (tomatoes, onions) and fruits (especially bananas, citrus fruits and pineapples). There is a wide range of oil plants, such as soy, peanut, oil palm, followed by sesame and castor; however, these are artisanal productions, carried out in the small farms that surround the villages. On the other hand, the recently developed oil palm, grown in large plots subsidized by the state, deserves a separate discussion.
Other agricultural products include coffee, mostly destined for domestic consumption, tea and cocoa, of which Indonesia is a major exporter. Sugar cane, which in the past was one of the main export items, mostly comes from Java. Tobacco, which is one of the best varieties in the world, is also grown on island, as well as Sumatra. Widespread almost everywhere in the archipelago is the coconut palm, from which the islanders derive a large quantity of products for local consumption in addition to copra, which is also partly exported; the best copra productions, generally obtained from small farmers gathered in cooperatives, come from Celebes, from some coastal areas of Kalimantan and from the western section of Java. On the other hand, spices (pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon etc.), for which the Moluccas were famous, no longer have the importance of the past, and the cultivation of Cinchona, the cinchona tree, for the fall in demand for quinine on the world market. Finally, textile plants (kenaf, cotton, agave sisalana) play a modest roleetc.). The forest patrimony is enormous, which affects more than half of the territorial surface and which in most of the islands, especially in Kalimantan, forms an almost uninterrupted cover (the annual production of timber is very high); there are precious woods such as teak, ebony, mahogany, sandalwood etc.; trees from which to extract dye and resin, trees for work wood, bamboo and above all the Hevea, whose plantations, located mainly in Kalimantan and Sumatra, were developed in the colonial period and for which Indonesia, a country located in Asia according to Topmbadirectory, held the world record for the extraction of rubber for a long time. Precisely the production of rubber comes largely from state-owned enterprises, but there are processes that originate in the properties of small farmers. Forest exploitation, limited until the second half of the twentieth century by the lack of infrastructures and adequate communication routes and, secondarily, by the need to safeguard forest resources, also through reforestation works, is of growing interest, also due to the effects caused. on the environment from illegal logging. The average annual rate of deforestation, often conducted also through fires to expand the area intended for intensive cultivation, it increased, in fact, between the end of the twentieth century and the beginning of the new millennium to reach over one and a half million hectares. The extent of deforestation is such that the percentage of forest destroyed annually is approximately 2% of the total assets. As regards the other activities of the primary sector, it can be observed that livestock farming remains an underdeveloped practice, due to the scarcity of permanent pastures and suitable spaces (6.2% of the national territory). However, there are goats and sheep and, increasingly, poultry, especially in the city; cattle breeding, practiced in Bali and in the less populated islands, is of some importance; buffaloes and pigs are also widespread, destined for the local consumption of foreign minorities and for export, being the great majority of the population of Muslim religion. The primary contribution to protein needs is provided by fishing. Generally practiced with very old-fashioned systems, this activity has enjoyed some state interventions aimed at favoring its development, starting with the motorization of boats; widespread not only in coastal areas, but also in inland waters, especially in Java, where carp breeding is flourishing. Particularly consistent is also the catch of tuna off Celebes, Java and Sumatra; fishing for trepang.