No need to panic over scarcity of salt: Researcher

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) Indonesia researcher Subhan Usman believes there is no need to panic about the current salt scarcity in Indonesia, as salt harvests will be conducted shortly in some areas in the country.

"The government and public need not panic too much about the scarcity of salt since this is only temporary," Usman noted on Saturday.

According to Usman, salt centers in some areas are currently approaching the harvest period that is expected to soon meet the market demand.

However, he added, the government deemed it necessary to form a team to investigate the scarcity in salt stocks in the market.

He noted that one needs to explore whether the scarcity is due to hoarding by the mafia or if there is a shortage of salt stocks at storage warehouses and markets.

"If the scarcity is due to hoarding, then the government needs to take firm action and impose sanctions against the perpetrators," he emphasized.

Subhan suggested that the government should immediately implement a comprehensive reform covering all aspects of the national salt industry.

He said comprehensive reforms, among others, encompass several aspects ranging from limited land to poor-quality salt that local farmers produce and low productivity.

In addition, he highlighted the need to update the use of traditional technology and anticipate anomalies that have occurred during the last two years.

"The problem of limited land for salt farming is a fundamental issue that must be probed through the economic equality policy being currently implemented by the government by distributing land to salt farmers," he stated.

In order to increase salt production, the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry (KKP) is also expected to realize the production facility assistance package and provide help to salt business groups, so that production of the commodity during the harvest season can be better.

Earlier, the KKP was preparing a regulation on controlling salt imports by coordinating and strengthening synergy with several related institutions.

"At the moment, the KKP is also preparing a ministerial regulation on controlling salt imports, which is part of the implementation of Law Number 7 of 2016 on Protection and Empowerment of Fishermen, Fish Breeders, and Salt Farmers," Director General of Sea Spatial Management of the KKP Brahmantya Satyamurti remarked.

With regard to the scarcity of salt as a result of unfavorable climate, Satyamurti revealed that the shortage in national salt stocks occurred, as salt farmers in some salt-producing centers had not begun harvesting. In order to tackle the problem, the government has made various efforts, including conducting field verification.

"The KKP has established a verification team comprising relevant ministries and agencies to conduct a study on the need for raw materials for producing consumer salt," he noted, adding that the verification team comprised the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs, KKP, Trade Ministry, Industry Ministry, National Polices Criminal Investigation Department, and Central Bureau of Statistics.

The results of this verification will be reviewed and serve as the basis for the issuance of recommendations for the import of raw materials for consumer salt to meet the needs for producing the commodity in 2017.(*)