The government has decided to import 100,000 tons of corn by the end of this year, even though the Ministry of Agriculture (Kementan) admitted that national corn production had experienced a surplus and even able to export hundreds of thousands of tons. Questions arise regarding the ministry’s proposal because there are irregularities.
Agriculture Minister Amran claimed the government’s efforts to boost corn production had produced satisfactory results. The production has been able to meet domestic needs, and even an excess supply of up to 372,000 tons was exported to Malaysia and the Philippines.
The ministry has been successfully reducing corn imports through a special effort program since 2016. Indonesia imported 3.5 million tons of corn in 2015 and successfully suppressed it to 1.3 million tons in 2016. It also claimed that Indonesia was free of corn imports last year.
If the program does not exist, Amran said Indonesia would not be able to export and would potentially import 3.87 million tons of corn this year. “This means the special effort program for three years could save foreign exchange of 9.6 million tons of corn worth Rp 31 trillion,” he said recently.
Meanwhile, Secretary General of the Agriculture Ministry Syukur Iwantoro said the national corn production in the last five years has increased by an average of 12.49 percent per year, with an additional harvest area of 11 percent and productivity increase of 1.42 percent. Referring to this trend, the production this year is predicted to reach 30 million tons of dry shelled corn.
The availability of corn production is estimated at 1.51 million tons this month and 1.53 million tons next month. Its productions spread in 10 production centres in East Java, Central Java, North Sumatra, North Sulawesi, West Sulawesi, Gorontolo, Lampung, and other provinces.
Several domestic corn production centres are entering the harvest period. On Sunday (11/11), the Agriculture Ministry held a simultaneous visit to seven regencies in East Java to monitor corn harvest.
The total harvested corn farmland reached 5,000 hectares in Tuban, Lamongan, Jember, Kediri, Mojokerto, and Pasuruan. According to the ministry, corn productivity in each field is 7-10 tons per hectare on average. This means the harvest on Sunday may produce 35,000-50,000 tons.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Food Security Agency (BKP) predicts this year’s corn needs are only 15.5 million tons of dry shelled corn, which comprises 7.76 million tons for animal feed, 2.52 million tons for independent farmers, 120,000 tons for seeds, and 4.76 million tons for food industry.
The problem is that the data described by the Agriculture Ministry were different from the data in other institutions. Reliable sources within the government told katadata.co.id that they questioned the ministry's data which stated that corn production had experienced a surplus. They compared it with the projection data from the World Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which stated that corn production in Indonesia is still in deficit.
The FAO estimates the national corn productions for this year and next year are 11.95 million tons, with 12.4 million tons for consumption, 8.5 million tons for animal feed, and 3.9 million tons for food, industry and seeds. This means there is still a supply shortage of 450,000 tons.
The export data from the Agriculture Ministry were also different from the data in other government agencies. According to the Statistics Indonesia (BPS), corn exports from January to September this year were only 17,470 tons, far from the ministry’s data of 372,000 tons.
On the other hand, new questions will emerge if the ministry’s data on corn production that has reached 28.48 million tons is correct. Where is the remaining production surplus absorbed? With the claimed consumption needs of 15.5 million tons and exports of 372,000 tons, it means that there are still 12.61 million tons remaining.
The excess production can meet around 83 percent of corn demand next year. With the assumption that next year’s production is the same as this year, the national corn surplus in 2019 would be more than 25 million tons.