RI cannot avoid importing food commodities in 2016: Minister

Among food items that still need to be imported in 2016 include rice, beef in the form of feedlot cattle and raw sugar.
Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara (ANTARA News) - The government has said it is still faces difficulties in avoiding food commodity imports in 2016 because it needs the commodities to prevent food price hikes in the country.

"Indonesia's trade balance has high surplus in 2015 which provides a room for food imports. We should maintain equilibrium so that the balance would not be too sharp and food prices would not rise too high," Trade Minister Thomas Lembong said on the sidelines of preparations for National Christmas celebrations here on Sunday.

Thomas said that with the trade surplus of about seven to nine billion US dollars in 2015, there still a chance to open food import in efforts to prevent food price increase at home.

He said he was not yet satisfied with the food price trend now so that he could not prevent food imports to strengthen stock and meet domestic needs while waiting for increase in agricultural products in the coming several years.

"The President and Vice President have stated several times that food self-sufficiency is mid-term target. We need time to overcome the problem from its fundamental root such as through developing dams, irrigations and logistics," said Thomas.

He said that among food items that still need to be imported in 2016 include rice, beef in the form of feedlot cattle and raw sugar.

For feedlot cattle, Indonesia is expected to import some 700-800 heads while for raw sugar, it is hoped to import over three million tons.

"It is not yet a final figure. I am also convinced that there will also be import of rice again apart from 1.5 million tons that has been agreed last September ," the minister said.

The government is still making calculation for the volume of rice imports in 2016, he added.(*)

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