Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Agriculture Minister Suswono has said the government will waive soybean import duty in view of the recent hike in price of the commodity.

"I think this is in response to the emergency situation, thanks to the soybean price hike," he said after attending a limited coordination meeting on food security here on Wednesday.

"The reduction of soybean import duty from 5 percent to 0 percent is temporary and will apply until the end of this year at the most.

Later, a tariff team led by the finance ministry will decide on the rate," Suswono added.

The country needs at least 500,000 hectares of land to plant soybean in order to meet domestic demand, but farmers prefer to grow maize because it is more profitable.

"Our problem regarding soybean is land-related. From the beginning, I have always said we need at least 500,000 hectares of additional farmland in order to be self-sufficient in soybean," Suswono stated.

"The country has 7.2 million hectares of land that is yet to be used," he pointed out.

The agriculture ministry has coordinated with the National Agrarian Agency to provide more land for soybean farming, through which an additional 1.1-1.5 million tonnes of soybean can be produced.

Besides, the government will also use genetically modified organism (GMO) technology to develop soybean seeds.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Bayu Krishnamurti noted that the import duty exemption would reduce soybean price by around Rp350-Rp400 per kg.

"The government had exempted the soybean import duty last year when the commodity`s price had increased due to a climate anomaly," said Bambang Brodjonegoro, the acting head of the finance ministry`s Fiscal Policy Agency.

However, he refused to go into details regarding the import duty exemption plan because the government team had yet to meet and discuss the matter.


Editor: Suryanto
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