Farmers Behind Soybean Price Increase

Kamis, 26 Juli 2012 | 13:10

Agriculture Minister Suswono says the current surge in soybean prices is due to farmers’ switching to corn. Maize is considered more promising because the price is higher."Corns and soybeans are planted at the same time. These days farmers tend to prefer corn. With soybeans priced at Rp5,000, it’s hard for soybean farmers," Suswono said at his office in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Last January soybean retailed at only Rp5,500-Rp5,600 per kilogram. Today the price has reached Rp8,000 per kilogram.

The price increase has also been triggered by declining production in the United States. The US is actually the world's largest producer of soybeans and where Indonesia imports most of its soybeans from. Another reason, says Suswono, is that China is beginning to buy soybeans on a large scale, causing supply in the world market to decline.

Soaring soybean prices have seen tempeh and tofu makers consider striking. "This is the problem when soybean prices are high, tempeh and tofu producers are the ones screaming. Because we still import 60 percent and only 40 percent is local," said Suswono.

In the ministry’s work plan to achieve self-sufficiency in soybeans by 2014, production must reach 2.7 million tons. However, efforts to attain self-sufficiency are still constrained by land issues. "Self-sufficiency in soybeans requires a minimum additional 500,000 hectares of land," he said.

The ministry is currently seeking to add land from the National Land Agency’s inventory. The Ministry of Agriculture and the BPN have agreed on fees for the use of government land for agricultural needs.

In the coming month, they will review which land can be distributed to farmers. However, if this plan does not materialize, a nucleus-plasma scheme will be implemented.

Suswono also has other plans. To boost soybean production, an intercropping system will be applied. The planting potential under this system may be the equivalent of 200,000 hectares of land expansion. The dry season is considered the best time to start planting soybeans.

To reduce reliance of additional land allocation, the ministry will seek an increase in productivity of 1.3 tons per hectare to 1.54 tons per hectare. It will then provide assistance in quality seeds and fertilizers.

"Self-sufficiency is still possible in two years," he said. ROSALINA