Strange, Food Data is Problematic
They persist with their respective arguments, leading to public confusion. How can agencies under the government have a different opinion?
Every time there is a plan to import rice, we always make a fuss over data. We are confused by the existing data. The rice import plan itself is strange.
Kompas Daily (25/11/2022) reported that the realization of rice imports for food reserves managed by Perum Bulog (the State Logistics Agency) is still waiting for the realization of domestic procurement commitments from the Agriculture Ministry. In the previous hearing with Commission IV of the House of Representatives (DPR), the Agriculture Ministry said that it agreed to procure 600,000 tonnes of domestic rice in six days.
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If this is not achieved, the data believed by the Agriculture Ministry showing a production surplus of up to millions of tonnes will be considered invalid. Perum Bulog said the realization of imports will wait for the results of the realization of this commitment. If the procurement is achieved, they will drop the import plan that has been prepared.
They persist with their respective arguments, leading to public confusion.
Controversies like this frequently happen, not just at this time. Because of that, the matter becomes something strange. Government agencies and government business entities do not share the same views on strategic issues, namely food. They persist with their respective arguments, leading to public confusion. How can agencies under the government have a different opinion?
In years when the planting season could last all year round, rice production was relatively unproblematic. Last year’s and this year’s conditions are similar. Under such circumstances, Indonesia has won international awards, which is actually not ideal because there is no innovation in production.
If there is a plan to import rice, it is natural for the public to ask. At least there is no drought causing a drop in production. Moreover, the plan is ahead of large-scale political activities, namely general elections. The public is increasingly asking about the purpose of importing rice.
The plan leads to various speculations. Perum Bulog can defend its argument even though we need to know exactly how the rice procurement model so far has been.
The Agriculture Ministry's stance may be right, but this controversy carries the burden for them to prove that the procurement of rice this time is not problematic. In fact, this matter is not their business if all agree with the existing data.
If the Agriculture Ministry gives earlier notification, the rice import controversy might not arise.
The Agriculture Ministry should take more care of the upstream or all matters related to rice cultivation. We also regret that this problem arises when there is a plan to import rice. If the Agriculture Ministry gives earlier notification, the rice import controversy might not arise.
Dissent over rice production has to end. The plan to import rice emerges because the data available so far raises a problem. We need to immediately reorganize agricultural production data so that it becomes a common benchmark for making decisions.
(This article was translated by Hyginus Hardoyo).