IO – President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) has expressed his concern that Indonesia continues to import large volumes of sugar and soybeans every year. “Keep an eye on soybeans and sugar – we still import millions of tons. Also garlic and rice, even though we have not imported rice for nearly two years. I want to see whether we can remain consistent in the field,” he said as he inaugurated the opening of the National Agricultural Development Work Meeting 2021 in the Presidential Palace Complex, Jakarta, on Monday (11/01/2021).
CEIC data shows that Indonesia does import millions of tons of soybeans a year: 2018 imports stood at 2.59 million tons, rising in 2019 to2.67 million tons while 2020 imports remained steep at 1.84 million tons. Raw sugar imports in January-November 2018 totaled 5.18 million tons, down to 4.11 million tons in 2019, and back up to 5.84 million tons in 2020.
The Ministry of Agriculture is working to boost domestic harvests. The soybean cultivation intensification program is prepared and ready
for full implementation within the” “next 200 days. “Our current primary soybean problem is global contraction, which specifically occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We responded by preparing concrete steps to help farmers increase cultivation levels. We are creating a real action program. However, for us the most important thing is how to implement this in the field. This is what we need to ensure,” said Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo in his written statement.
According to the Minister, the improvement of national soybean cultivation, both in terms of quality and price level, is a priority of the agricultural development program. The steps taken include expanding planting areas and increasing the involvement of integrators, Ministry of Agriculture units, and Regional Governments. “The Ministry of Agriculture takes rapid steps with various integrators and existing soybean developers to boost domestic cultivation,” he said.
The Ministry’s Director General of Food Crops Suwandi confirms that efforts to increase soybean cultivation in 2021 include accelerating” “cultivation in clusters with the help of integrators. Furthermore, development aid is also granted for several provinces, including North Sulawesi (9,000-hectare planting area expansion), West Sulawesi (30,000-hectare planting area expansion), and South Sulawesi (9,000-hectare planting area expansion). “We establish partnerships in downstream cultivation and industrial markets for tofu and tempe with farmers in Central Java (15,000 ha), West Java (15,000 ha), East Java (15,000 ha), and West Nusa Tenggara (4,000 ha) with the support of the People’s Enterprise Credit (Kredit Usaha Rakyat – “KUR”) and support for access to off-takers,” he said.
Suwandi further stated that cooperation with agricultural R & D agencies is necessary to drive up the national soybean productivity. “The current average soybean cultivation rate is 1.5 tons/ha and we need to increase this figure to 2 tons/ha by means of superior seed and cultivation technology research. We also need to control imports by changing policies from non-restricted to restricted, and to oblige all soybean importers to partner up with farmers and to simultaneously absorb locally produced soybeans at a stipulated price level,” he said.
Earlier, the Ministry of Agriculture’s General Secretary Momon Rusmono stated that the Ministry of Agriculture has work plans for accelerating economic recovery and social reforms, with a national priority of strengthening economic security. The underlying hope is to encourage qualified and fair agricultural growth. The Ministry’s priority programs include the improvement of access and quality of food consumption, the increase of agricultural work value, and the increase of investments in the real sector and in industrialization. (dan)