Pre-Event National Webinar SBE UISC x FDEP
Garam, Komoditas Ekonomi Nan Strategis
by Shmily Evania Soen
SBE UISC in collaboration with Forum Diskusi Ekonomi Politik (FDEP) brought up “Garam, Komoditas Ekonomi Nan Strategis” as the topic for the national webinar pre-event. It took place on March 28, 2021, where three speakers were invited to give a presentation regarding the topic from the economic, salt farmers’, and the government’s perspectives.
Pak Faisal Basri, an Indonesian economic observer, was the first speaker. Pak Faisal showed the need, production, and import of salt in Indonesia over the last decade. In the last 2 years, there’s a decline in salt import. However, the salt need in 2021 is predicted to be higher than in 2020. Our country needs a solid strategy to fulfill the need for salt without importing if we want to maintain the import rate that we are currently at. Pak Faisal believed that it is possible for Indonesia to reach self-sufficiency regarding salt. There are many potential salt producers in Indonesia, one of them is Bima, Nusa Tenggara Timur, that is still considered a “small player” in national salt production. Bima produces a big surplus amount of salt each year. Yet, the transportation cost is way too high for Bima’s salt to compete with other salt in the market. Advancing our technology, considering the opportunity cost, and taking affirmative actions are needed to increase salt production, as Pak Faisal said. Students play a huge role in advancing technology, and therefore, have to study hard and take part in bettering the country. To attract more customers into buying local salt, he recommended creative packaging by adding a hint of culture into the packages.
The second speaker was Pak Jakfar Sodikin, the chairman of Asosiasi Petani Garam Rakyat Indonesia (APGRI). According to him, the local salt quality has increased significantly over the years. The percentage of NaCl has also peaked up to 95%, as well as the productivity. Nevertheless, the government still deemed the local salt quality to be subpar compared to those that are imported. In 2020, the difficulties in salt production were the high rainfall and the salt farmers’ demotivation in producing salt. The latter was caused by the severely low bid of local salt by the market. Indonesia imports salt mostly for industrial use, but Pak Jakfar believed that Indonesia was actually capable of covering the salt need for industries, if it weren’t for the lack of technology. With the conventional technology, the salt produced still contains minerals, such as calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg). Although good for human consumptions, these minerals inhibit industrial processes. Thus, he requested the government to take more initiatives in developing technology for further salt processes, so the local salt can be utilized for more diverse sectors. A new body that focuses on managing local salt production is also necessary.
The third speaker was Pak Safri Burhanuddin, the Deputy Minister of Maritime Resources from the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment Affairs. As the government representative, he clarified that all imported salt is for industrial use only. The government doesn’t prefer the imported salt over local’s, but the production rate that we’re at right now doesn’t meet the country’s needs. We already cover the consumption needs, but we are still behind for industrial needs. Last year’s salt production is at 1,5 million tons while the demand is way higher. Thus, our country needed to fill the gap by importing. Furthermore, our country is still facing many problems regarding salt; the production, human resources and technology, investation and licensing, pricing and usage. The government has come up with several solutions to face these problems like land extensification for salt production, industrial salt factories, products’ diversification, pricing control, and washing plants establishment. Pak Safri said our country needs not only technology to increase salt production, but also efficiency.
Indonesia’s salt production still faces numerous problems, particularly the inability to meet the need for industrial salt. The main reason behind it is the conventional technology that limits our country to further process salt for industrial use. Hence, Indonesia is in dire need of more advanced technology. As students, it is our job to develop new technology for the greater good of our country, also to alleviate poverty and advance prosperity for salt farmers