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Indonesia fights against illegal potato imports

Potato problems: Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita (right) and Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman (left) address protesters on Thursday. The potato farmers from Dieng plateu, Central Java, took part in a rally with other farmers from West Java under the Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI) to demand that the government stop potato imports. (Courtesy: Jakarta Post)

The Indonesian government pledged on Thursday to immediately stop illegal potato imports that have put local farmers at risk.

Speaking after a meeting with representatives of local potato farmers at his office, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita said the government only allowed imports of Atlantic potatoes, a variety used to make French fries and chips.

Thus, imports of Granola potatoes, which are planted by most local farmers, are prohibited.

Enggartiasto Lukita, Trade Minister:

“Some importers have violated their permits by importing Granola potatoes; it is illegal.”

“We already told the police to investigate.”
Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman, who was also present at the meeting, said the government would speed up efforts to help farmers boost productivity. The ministry, for example, will soon deploy over 1,000 agriculture experts to help potato farmers across the archipelago.

According to Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data, potato imports reached 18,674 tons during the first nine months of 2016, with a total import value of US$8.82 million.

Amran said potato prices were around Rp 5,000 (37 US cents) per kilogram last month but had bounced back to Rp 8,500 per kg this week. Low prices, he said, would put local farmers in danger, as the cost of production for potatoes currently stands at Rp 5,000 per kg