500,000 tons of salt to be imported soon after long polemic

Selasa, 28 Februari 2012 | 12:02

The government finally has agreed to import 500,000 tons of consumer salt for covering this year’s needs following a long polemic.However, the measure doesn’t turn off the optimism to achieve national self-supporting. The decision on salt import had been executed through a joint meeting of Maritime and Fishery Ministry, Industry Ministry, Trade Ministry, and Top Economic Ministry.

“The import is aimed to cover needs for 3.5 months and a month stock leading to 500,000 tons totally,” Director General of Foreign Trade at Trade Ministry Deddy Saleh.

Responding to the measure, Maritime and Fishery Minister Syarif Cicip Sutardjo asked all parties to be realistic. The government will allow importing consuming salt, if there is a shortage. But, they are obligated to buy local salt.

The need for consumer salt should have been covered locally and there is no reason to import such salt, revealed Head of Pharmaceutical-Raw Materials of BPPT for Agro-Industry Technology and Biotechnology Bambang Srijanto.

Self-supporting of salt
Dealing with self-supporting of salt, Bambang said the government should separate such consuming and industry salt because of different problem roots.

“The problem faced by local salt is more caused by social, economic, and cultural factors than problem on processing technology.”

Every year, salt farmer faced instability of salt price, especially in great harvest which frustrated them. Salt price for farmer is determined by the sellers.

Moreover, the absence of price appreciation on the salt quality from the sellers and the economic claims jas made the salt farmers tend to pursue quantity of their production by accelerating the harvest period within a production period of 6-12 days.

Whereas, the good salt quality needsproduction process of 15 days.

The low quality was caused by the wrong salt processing techniques and harvest techniques. The salt farmers generally implemented crystallization process thus there are a lot of impurity compound contains in the crystallization process, beside organic compound. Thus, the NaCl was low and almost disappear by 30% in the washing process.

Bambang explained that the ideal process in making salt is by multilevel crystallization and leaving a quite thick layer of salt in harvesting, aiming at reducing the amount of impurity compound and organic impurities in salt.

In salt fields, farmers often face problem in getting enough good quality ocean water, which is the raw material of salt.

Moreover, farmers have relatively small fields and there are also not enough warehouses to store salts after harvest time. A salt farmer usually has 0.2-0.3 hectares of land.

As farmers have not enough space to store salts, they usually sell their salt to sellers who will distribute the product to processing factories.

In addition, the primary channel needs dredging and repair while road accessing the fields of salt farmers must be renovated. The industry also needs organized trading system, including import policy and farmer coaching.

Concerning large scale salt producers, Bambang mentioned that a survey shows that East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) is one appropriate place for producing salt.

However, the problems in NTT include land availability and infrastructure. It is not easy to reach a large and integrated field because many local people still claim their ownership of the land. Port, road, electricity are not proper because the development of industry in NTT is still lagging. (T01/T03/T04/NOM)

By Abraham Runga Mali
Source http://en.bisnis.com