National food demands continue to increase due to the growth of Indonesian population. All this while, the fulfillment of those food demands come from domestic production and import.
One of the food commodities which is continuously imported by the government is rice. Rice is a politic commodity because the price of rice will influence the community’s social, political, and economic condition.
An instant policy which was implemented by the government to address the increase of rice price was an import. Centre for Data and Information, Ministry of Agriculture for the 2012-2016 period mentioned Indonesia imported rice with an average of 665,626 ton/year and it increased up to 127 ton until the third quartile in 2017.
In the beginning of 2018, the government imported rice with the amount of 500 thousand ton. This policy raised controversy because it was implemented near the harvesting period.
Many experts said the rice import would deviate the rice price, thus it would give disadvantages for the farmers. However, the other experts had an opinion that rice was essential to maintain the national food stock.
A lecturer from Department of Social Economic Agriculture, Faculty of Agriculture UGM, Dr. Ir. Jangkung Handoyo Mulyo said the determination of policies on rice import had to be based on the accurate data (evidence-based) regarding the number of national rice production and consumption. Then, we had to calculate the available rice stock.
However, according to Jangkung, there were abundant existing data. Those data came from the Ministry of Agriculture, Statistic Center Agency and so forth.
There were various data presentations. For the parties who were demanded to meet the target of national rice production, the presented data is surplus (overestimate). Meanwhile, the parties who wanted to conduct rice import showed minus data (underestimate).
“Rice import can cause inflation. Therefore, we need a valid data which will be used to determine the right import policies,” said Jangkung during a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) entitled National Rice Provision Problem, Policies, Production, and Import which was held at Auditorium Prof. Ir. Harjono Danoesastro, Faculty of Agriculture UGM on Friday (2/1).
During the FGD which was held by Centre for Agricultural Sovereignty Studies, Faculty of Agriculture UGM, Director General of Food Plantation, Ministry of Agriculture for the 2010-2014 period, Ir. Udhoro Kasih Anggoro said if the existing data were not accurate, it would be difficult to formulate a policy. Moreover, if those data were used to determine a public policy, it would cause many negative and dangerous impacts.
“Therefore, a compact data is required to help the government in making a decision,” said Anggoro.
Anggoro who currently becomes an Advisor of the Board of Directors of Salim Group for Sustainable Food Sector encouraged UGM academic community to play a more active role and contribute in making the policies which can be done by becoming a synergetic partner and giving criticism toward the related parties, including President, National Planning Agency, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Trade, and Ministry of Finance.
Dean of Faculty of Agriculture UGM, Dr. Jamhari, S.P., M.P. said the increase of rice price was influenced by the availability of rice and the market’s demands. In order to know the real condition, it could be seen from the rice price in the markets.
“The data of rice price can become more valid than the data of production and consumption. Therefore, the high price of rice may be caused by its limited stock,” said Jamhari. (Humas UGM/Fiki)