Indonesia focusing on domestic food availability: minister

Indonesia focusing on domestic food availability: minister

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto at the 'Panen Raya Nusantara' event in Jakarta on Wednesday (June 22, 2022). (ANTARA/Sella Panduarsa G/rst)

We must focus on domestic food availability
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia is currently focusing on domestic food availability considering that 24 countries have banned food exports, although seven have relaxed such restrictions, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto has said.

"Some 24 countries have banned exports. However, seven have relaxed the regulation. There are still 17 countries that have prohibited the export of wheat, chicken, and other horticultural products, including fertilizer. We must focus on domestic food availability," he emphasized in Jakarta on Wednesday.

He then outlined three government efforts to ensure food availability --securing supply, diversifying food, and implementing efficiency.

In terms of food diversification, despite being a rice-consuming country, Indonesia has not imported rice in the past three years, Hartarto pointed out.

In fact, with total production expected to reach seven million tons by the end of the year, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has asked the authority to export 250 thousand tons of rice, he noted.

Another food sector that needs to be boosted and improved is the production of agricultural and marine products to reduce dependence on protein imports, the minister said.

"We must encourage this cultivation to replace fish catching industry. Good protein comes from both fish and shrimp. The food agency must promote it hence Indonesians can cut dependence on meat imports," he added.

Moreover, Indonesia is currently battling foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in livestock, which is challenging the country to carry out food diversification while handling the problem optimally, he said.

"The task force must work hard to eradicate this disease through vaccination and treatment of cattle," Hartarto added.

He also said that the Indonesian economy has shown a positive growth of 5 percent in the past two quarters, although the number of COVID-19 cases has remained around 600 per day. However, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants must be anticipated by all stakeholders, he added.

In addition, Indonesia's trade balance continued to record a surplus of US$35.34 billion in 2021. Even in May 2022, when Indonesia stopped exports of crude palm oil (CPO) and its derivatives, it recorded an export growth of 27 percent, compared to the same period of 2021.

"We must continue to maintain this trend of increasing exports because this is one of the engines of our economic growth," Hartarto said.

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