Friday, October 19, 2012


     Jakarta, Oct 19, 2012 (ANTARA) - Indonesia is a country having sunshine for almost all year long and has the second longest coastline after Canada, which makes it an ideal place for salt production.
      However, domestic production of salt in general has been up and down, while industries in particular have depended on imports for good quality salt for industrial purposes.
     Salt is among other things produced by evaporation of seawater or brine from other sources, such as brine wells and salt lakes, and by mining rock salt, called halite.
      According to Wikipedia, top five producers being the United States (40.3 million tonnes), China (32.9), Germany (17.7), India (14.5), and Canada (12.3).
       Indonesia`s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries last year set a target of reaching self-sufficiency in table salt in less than three years. Indonesia plans to reduce salt imports to 1.28 million tonnes in 2012, and reach a production surplus of 77,000 tonnes in 2013 and 1.5 million tonnes in 2014, according to the Jakarta Globe daily.
      Last week, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sharif C Sutardjo announced that Indonesia no longer needed to import table salt because domestic production of the commodity has exceeded the national demand.
     "This year`s salt production has reached 2.3 million tonnes, coming from trained farmers` groups, independent salt farmers and PT Garam," the minister said.

To help boost the domestic production of table salt, the ministry allocated Rp50 million for each farmers` group, with funds derived from the Rural Fishery Business Empowerment (PUMP) programme implemented last year.

"About 10,000 hectares of land under salt production are receiving government assistance. By the end of this year, we want to increase it to 16,000 hectares. We intend to double the number of farmers we have covered under the programme," Sharif said.

Each hectare is estimated to produce 80 tonnes of salt, with total production expected to reach 1.4 million tonnes. There are also farmers who produce salt on their own - without any assistance from the government.

"They have a total of about 10,000 hectares, with average productivity of 50 tonnes of salt per hectare," Sharif noted.

PT Garam has some 5,000 hectares under salt production, with each hectare producing approximately 80 tonnes, according to him.

Earlier, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa announced that the government was planning to set up a national salt company to ensure the success of the People`s Salt Industry Empowerment (Pugar) programme.

"It was me who had proposed a state salt company," he said.

According to Rajasa, who is also the chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), the government has fixed the selling price of salt in order to protect salt farmers` interests.

He stated that his ministry had already held meetings to discuss the proposed state salt company. "It was decided that there should be a domestic company that would buy salt," Rajasa said.

Indonesia imported table salt during the March-June 2012 period. The trade ministry has banned the import of table salt since June 30 in an effort to support local salt farmers ahead of the salt harvesting season.

The meeting decided that the table salt import allocation for 2012 would be 533,000 tons, carried out in two stages from the March-April 2012 period covering 300,000 tons, and the May-June 2012 period covering 233,000 tons.

The decision was made on February 16, 2012, during a coordinating meeting held by the National Salt Self-Reliance Team, which was attended by representatives from the coordinating ministry of economic affairs, the trade ministry, the industry ministry, and the maritime affairs and fisheries ministry.

Besides, the government also planned to set up a salt commission in each salt-producing district/city in Indonesia.

"The plan surfaced during a meeting between representatives of salt farmers and the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs in Jakarta some time ago," the chief of the commission B of the Pamekasan district legislative council, Hosnan Achmadi, said in Pamekasan, East Java`s Madura Island, one of Indonesia`s main salt producing areas, last September 2012.

"Now that Madura is the largest salt producer in the country, we hope the salt commission will be headquartered on the island," he said.

At the meeting, the representatives of salt farmers proposed the establishment of salt commission which will monitor and supervise smallholder salt production, he said.

The salt commission will also function as a mediator which represents the interests of salt farmers and businessmen across the country, he said.

"The salt commission will be headquartered in one of places in Indonesia, be it Jakarta or district/municipal capital which is really a salt production center," he said.

The legislator of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said Pamekasan is the only salt producing district in Indonesia which has a salt commission. However, the commission has not played its optimum role due to the absence of such commission at central level, he said.

If the plan to set up a salt commission in all salt-producing districts/cities is realized the presence of such commissions will help salt farmers, he said.

Last September, salt farmers grouped in the Association of East Java Salt Farmers (HMPG) took to the street protesting report that the government was importing salt from Australia.

The association strongly protested salt imports during salt harvest time because it would hurt the domestic salt prices.

Last year, the government had decided to stop importing edible salt in order to absorb local farmers` salt production which reached 1.4 million tons a year. However, salt for industry remained to be imported.

According to Fadel Muhammad, Indonesia`s total need for salt reached 3.4 million tonnes last year, consisting of 1.6 million tonnes for consumption and 1.8 tonnes for industry. So the real need for importation of table salt was only 200 thousand tons in 2011.

"Thanks God, we have decided to stop importing table salt," the then Maritime and Fisheries Affairs Minister Fadel Muhammad, who has the ambition of turning Indonesia to be self-reliance in table salt production, stated last year. ***2***


(T.F001/A/KR-BSR/S012) 19-10-2012 20:59:59

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