Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman has said the food mafia can reap up to Rp19 trillion per annum from toying with garlic prices.

The price of garlic in China is Rp5,600 per kg, while the net price in Indonesia ranges from Rp8,000 to Rp10,000 per kg. The mafia toys with the price so that it becomes expensive, and can sometimes even reach Rp45,000 to Rp50,000 per kg, said Sulaiman, after leading the ceremony on the birthday of Pancasila in Jakarta on Friday.

"They can reap a profit of Rp19 trillion a year, and this profit is enjoyed by a handful of people, while causing misery to millions of others; it is not humane," he said.

High margins enjoyed by garlic businessmen indicate the rise of a mafia that toys with prices and harms consumers.

The Minister explained the `game` indication allegedly also occurred during the implementation of mandatory planting. According to reports, Agriculture Ministry (Kementan) staffers in the field are bribed (by importers) so that obligatory planting does not necessarily get implemented.

The bribe money from importers to Kementan staffers, he said, was reported to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

"We have to clean up and brush out the food mafia. We will continue to evaluate the 26 importers who have obtained the import permit 2018. If they are proven to be part of a cartel, we will not hesitate to blacklist them and their group of companies," said the minister.

Importer companies, which do not carry out the mandatory planting, will also be directly blacklisted, he added.

He asserted that blacklists apply to companies with legal problems, importing without appropriate designation, toying with prices so as to cause high disparities from 500 to 1,000 percent, manipulating mandatory planting and other cropping.

Kementan, he added, fully supports law enforcement efforts and appreciates the ranks of the police along with the Food Task Force (Satgas). Now, more than 497 cases of food are processed by law.

Sulaiman asserted that rogue importer companies whose owners have been named suspects by the National Police (Polri) included PT PTI, PT TSR, PT CGM, PT FMT and PT ASJ.

"We have shut down the companies and their cronies, and they are not allowed to do business in the food sector," said Sulaiman.

Coinciding with the birthday of the Pancasila state ideology, Sulaiman declared war on the food mafia.

"Shut down the rogue companies, and open the door wide for professionals and companies with integrity," he said.

According to him, it has been conveyed to the Satgas Pangan of Polri Headquarters to quell the food mafia.

"So, the entrepreneurs would not dare to play `games`; we will not compromise with those who play games with farmers and consumers," he said.

Reporter: Subagyo
Editor: Bustanuddin
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