We will do this to reduce imports and substitute it with domestic products
Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Ministry of Agriculture strives to boost the production of local foods as substitutes for food commodities, such as wheat, for which there is still dependence on imports.

Director of Cereals at the Directorate General of Food Crops of the Ministry of Agriculture M. Ismail Wahab noted that Indonesia was still importing corn, soybean, and wheat.

"We are still importing corn for food. The number is quite large. This year, we are trying to substitute imported corn," he noted in an official statement on Saturday.

Hence, the Ministry of Agriculture has formulated a strategy in the form of boosting productivity and conducting diversification of local foods in the midst of a potential global food crisis.

Wahab stated that in 2021, Indonesia had imported 987,005 tons or Rp1.2 trillion worth of corn. Starting this year, the government would strive to boost the production of low-aflatoxin corn to replace imported food corn.

"We will do this to reduce imports and substitute it with domestic products," he affirmed.

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The ministry will fulfill the obligation to absorb local corn, duplicate low-aflatoxin corn products in corn center areas, and use corn seeds with high starch content. Production trials will be conducted in Central Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

Wahab later noted that domestic corn stocks were still relatively good. There were also offerings from several entrepreneurs and corn collectors to export five thousand tons of corn. However, the government did not grant the request to maintain corn stocks in the country.

He said the government had begun planting soybean in an area spanning 350 thousand hectares this year. In 2023, the planted area is targeted to increase to 900 thousand hectares, while in 2024, it will reach 1.15 million hectares, 1.4 million hectares in 2025, and 1.5 million hectares in 2026.

"With this target, we have been able to meet our own needs," Wahab affirmed.

He noted that last year, Indonesia's soybean imports were recorded at 7.91 million tons, comprising 4.9 million tons of soybean meal and 2.5 million tons of soybean seeds.

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Meanwhile, in order to meet the domestic demand for wheat whose price has increased due to the impact of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the government is considering several local food crops, such as cassava, sago, and sorghum, to substitute it.

"I think sorghum has great potential to replace wheat," he affirmed.

Wahab emphasized that food technology assistance was deemed necessary to produce sorghum of the same quality as wheat, which contained gluten or a substance that can expand when processed.

In 2021, Indonesian wheat imports were recorded at 11.69 million tons. The government has targeted to reduce imports of these commodities gradually, specifically wheat imports to decrease by five percent this year, 10-percent reduction by 2023, and 20-percent decrease until 2025.

"Next year, we will cultivate 55 thousand hectares of sorghum, and in 2023, there will be 55 thousand hectares. This is our effort to anticipate wheat scarcity," he concluded.

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Translator: Aditya Ramadhan, Resinta S
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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