Scientists are looking to a tiny variety of killer wasp to spare Indonesia from the ravages of a bug that is threatening the key cassava crop in south-east Asia’s biggest economy.

Since it arrived in Indonesia in 2010, the cassava mealybug – a small white insect that feeds on plants – had spread to the country’s main growing regions for cassava, which is a staple for tens of millions of people and generates around $1bn a year from industrial production. Read more

Japanese fast food lovers: Indonesian yakitori and chicken nuggets may be coming to a table near you soon as Southeast Asia’s biggest economy tries to take advantage of China’s latest food safety woes.

McDonald’s Japan stopped importing Chinese chicken in July, part of a broader backlash after a major Chinese supplier was accused of selling meat beyond its shelf-life. Read more

Few, if any, Indonesians have heard of Gerald Ratner, the former British jewellery chain executive who became notorious for joking that his company’s products were “total crap” and then seeing sales nosedive.

But, in Ignasius Jonan, the head of the state-owned national rail company, Kereta Api Indonesia, they seem to have their own version of Ratner.

When asked why the trains are so crowded, he has a simple answer: you get what you pay for. Read more

All eyes are on the official vote counting process in Indonesia after Joko Widodo, the reformist Jakarta governor, and Prabowo Subianto, a self-styled military strongman, both claimed victory in Wednesday’s milestone presidential election.

Most “quick counts” – based on samples of actual votes cast – predicted a victory for Widodo by a margin of 4 to 5 percentage points. But Subianto has refused to concede, with his brother insisting that their own counts put him in the lead by a margin of nearly 4 percentage points. Read more

Tough-talking former general Prabowo Subianto has put nationalist rhetoric at the heart of his powerful presidential campaign.

But one of his communication advisers is Rob Allyn, an American political consultant has who worked for George W. Bush and Mexico’s Vicente Fox among many others.

Supporters of Subianto’s rival Joko Widodo, the Jakarta governor, have claimed that Allyn is linked to a widely circulated smear campaign that has falsely accused him of being a Communist, ethnically Chinese and not a Muslim. Read more

Tracking Joko Widodo, the narrow front-runner in Indonesia’s presidential election, is not an easy task, as the FT found out when it trailed him in East Java at the weekend.

The schedule constantly changes, he turns up for events hours late and keeping up with his entourage’s long convoy of cars requires bouts of death-defying acceleration through busy city streets.

The perils of following the Jakarta governor on the stump underline the weaknesses of his campaign, which has lost a 30 percentage point poll lead over the past three months. Read more

For a frontrunner whose campaign has been floundering, the first of Indonesia’s televised presidential debates did not start well on Monday night.

Small-town mayor turned political superstar Joko Widodo had left a large piece of notepaper poking prominently out of his suit as the candidates sang the national anthem.

To supporters of his rival, former general Prabowo Subianto, the wardrobe malfunction underlined their view that Widodo, now the governor of Jakarta, is an uncertain and inexperienced leader, not ready for the highest office. Read more

From Uber to GrabTaxi, the leading car-for-hire apps are finally coming to Jakarta, where they will find congested roads and congested mobile bandwidth but also a large market of tech-savvy consumers. Read more

Although he officially stepped down from the family business when he entered the government in 2004, Indonesian tycoon Aburizal Bakrie still has the power to move markets.

His announcement late on Tuesday that he was withdrawing from Indonesia’s presidential race to support front-runner Joko Widodo pushed the Jakarta stock exchange up by 1.4 per cent on Wednesday and sent the rupiah 0.8 per cent higher against the US dollar in its biggest one-day move for two months. Read more

Unilever boasts that the mission of its Wall’s ice cream brand is “to bring more smiles to more people”.

But the consumer goods giant had rather the opposite effect on Tri Risma Harini, the indomitable mayor of Surabaya, after its latest marketing push in Indonesia’s booming second city went awry on Sunday. Read more

Management consultants at McKinsey say the Indonesian middle class consists of 45m people, while their rivals at Boston Consulting Group cite a figure of 74m. The Asian Development Bank puts it at an eye-popping 146m, or 59 per cent of the population.

Either way, investors are whetting their appetites at the prospect of selling their goods and services into this undoubtedly large and fast-growing market of consumers. Read more

While the “quick count” results from Wednesday’s five-yearly legislative election are only preliminary, it seems clear that the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) has failed to fully capitalise on the popularity of its presidential candidate, Joko Widodo.

Having named Widodo, the highly regarded Jakarta governor, as its presidential candidate in March, PDI-P was targeting at least 27 per cent of the vote for the 560-member House of Representatives (DPR). But initial results showed that it secured 19 per cent, in spite of coming first.

 Read more

Ben Bland, Indonesia correspondent, explains one of the world’s most complicated elections as the country prepares to elect both chambers of its legislature and a new president.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia is stepping down this year after reaching a two-term limit. With his country facing a host of serious challenges from rising inequality to slowing economic growth, investors are anxious to know who will replace him and what the make-up of the new House of Representatives will be.

But making sense of one of the world’s most complicated elections is no easy task. So here is your bookmark-and-keep guide to understanding how Indonesia’s legislative and presidential elections work – and why they matter. Read more

Indonesia is facing a colossal task to organise what is perhaps the world’s most complicated single-day election, as the FT reports on Wednesday.

Here are six major quirks of the idiosyncratic Indonesian electoral system. Read more

“Hot celebs assault on parliament,” reads the headline of a local tabloid in a photograph that Destiya Purna Panca has uploaded to Instagram.

The 25-year-old swimsuit model – better known as Destiara Talita – was one of the two celebrities pictured on the front page. The other was 28-year-old Camellia Panduwinata Lubis – or Camel Petir – a popular singer of Indonesia’s hip-shaking dangdut music.

Both are candidates in the April 9 elections for the small Indonesian Justice and Unity Party and high-profile examples of the caleg cantik or “beautiful legislative candidate” trend. Read more

With Indonesia’s parliament and political parties having earned a popular reputation for corruption, waste and venality, many voters are uninspired by April 9’s legislative elections.

But amid the party hacks, elite offspring and celebrities standing for election, there is a crop of first-time parliamentary candidates who are promising to be clean, effective and responsive.

Young, professional and social media-savvy, they are targeting some of the 50m plus voters under 30 years of age (out of an electorate of 186m), with 21.8m of them first time voters. To give an insight into the strengths, weakness and quirks of the Indonesian electoral system, beyondbrics will be tracking the progress of one such candidate, Taufik Basari. Read more

By helicopter, by jeep and on horseback, former special forces general Prabowo Subianto came storming into a rally at Jakarta’s main stadium on Sunday in a bid to revitalise his ailing campaign for Indonesia’s presidency. Read more

While Joko Widodo, the wildly popular governor of Jakarta, just about managed to restrain his euphoria when he was finally named as his party’s presidential candidate on Friday, investors were not so coy.

The Jakarta stock exchange jumped by three percent on Friday, its biggest one-day gain for six months, to reach a nine-month high, while the once-troubled rupiah has strengthened by 1.3 per cent against the US dollar since then. Read more

When employees of Indonesian zinc oxide producer Indo Lysaght went to pick up their export permits from the trade ministry last month they were shocked to be told by officials: “computer says no”.

Without the company’s prior knowledge, zinc oxide had been added to the list of mineral ores that were banned from being exported as of January 12 as part of a controversial plan to force mining companies to build smelters and refineries. Read more