Jakarta. The Indonesian government is developing 40,000 hectares of new salt farms in eastern Indonesia and making more efforts to improve salt processing in the country to reach its goal of stopping salt import by 2020, an official said on Tuesday (09/01).
"We are opening up new salt farms in eastern Indonesia and intensifying efforts to improve salt processing technology in existing farms in Java and Madura," the Maritime Affairs Coordinating Ministry's natural resources deputy Agung Kuswandono said in a press conference in Jakarta.
The new salt farms are located in East Nusa Tenggara and on a few islands around Ambon in Maluku.
In the meantime, Indonesia will continue to import salt to meet domestic demand, Agung said.
The Fisheries and Marine Affairs Ministry and the Trade Ministry will decide on the import amount later.
Last year, an unusually long wet season disrupted salt supply in Indonesia and doubled its price in the local markets, leading to a "salt crisis" in the country.
In response, the government began to import salt to meet demand.
Indonesia consumed around 4.2 million tons of salt last year, both for industry use and public consumption, according to the Indonesian Salt-Using Industries Association (AIPGI).
The government has been developing new salt farms in the past few years, with state-owned salt producer Garam currently running production from around 400 hectares.
"We’re not only opening up new farms but also new factories with the BPPT's [Technology Assessment and Application Agency] help," Agung said.
Indonesia imports salt from Australia, India and Germany.
Maritime Affairs Coordinating Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the government will ensure that Indonesian salt farmers do not feel shortchanged by the government's decision to keep importing salt for the time being.
"We will keep things fair. We will make sure local salt farmers get a decent price for their product," Luhut said.
He also said all the new salt farms are being developed according to regulations, which require the government to build the infrastructure.