Riani Sanusi Putri, Jakarta – The Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI) chairperson Henry Saragih on Monday assessed that the government's decision to import 2 million tons of rice grain this year is detrimental to farmers as the policy is taken precisely amidst the country's main harvest is in progress.
"The announcement of rice imports in the near future will definitely have an impact, both psychologically and directly on prices at the farm level," said Henry in his statement to Tempo on Monday, March 27.
According to Henry, rice import announcements should not be made when farmers are harvesting, especially if it is classified as a major import of up to 2 million tons.
He also said that the government should have learned from the incident involving the national food agency (Bapanas) which had caused the price of grain at the farm level to drop. The regulation regarding prices was also made before the main harvest which caused a myriad of farmers to lose money. Later, Bapanas revoked the circular after protests by farmers.
Now, the government is making another decision that has the potential to cause farmers' grain and rice prices to fall. The government argues that domestic production is not sufficient for the government's rice grain supply or CBP and that importing the commodity is unpreventable.
Henry questioned the government's data which stated that domestic production was insufficient because currently, the harvest shows otherwise and is arguably abundant. He suspects that this reason is only to cover up the government's inability to absorb grain and rice at the farmer's level.
"If there is indeed a decrease in production, the data that is provided must be clear," he said.