Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian Farmers Association (HKTI) has stated that the government can bring down the soaring prices of soybean if it is determined enough to do so.

"If soybean must be imported under a quota as a short-term solution, the government`s policy must permit Bulog (state logistics agency) and cooperatives to do so," HKTI Secretary General Benny Pasaribu said here on Thursday.

The weakening of the Indonesian rupiah against the US dollar, which is one of reasons behind the soaring soybean prices, will have no impact on the Bulog and cooperatives, he continued.

"If the government implements a tariff policy, there will be no need to restrict imports and everybody can import the commodity," Benny explained.

However, he stated, the government must protect the interests of Indonesian farmers by setting higher tariffs on imported soybean.

"The higher tariffs will encourage local farmers to produce more soybean," Benny said, adding that the government must help local soybean growers by supplying them with high-yielding seeds and fertilizers free of cost.

He also pointed out that many areas in Java, such as Sragen district, have the potential to produce better-quality soybean seeds than the imported ones.

"Progress in these areas depends on the government, particularly the trade minister. It's up to them to decide what to do now," Benny said.

Soybean prices have soared to approximately Rp9,100 a kg from around Rp7,000 a kg two weeks ago amid the threat of a poor harvest in the US and the rupiah`s decline against the dollar.

Rising soybean prices have also taken a toll on tempe and tofu factories, with many forced to halt production.

Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan said recently that the government was considering exempting soybeans from import tariffs, as part of efforts to tackle the price hikes. (*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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