Fri, 18 Jan 2008
Manado, N Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - The government will move up the launching of a massive soybean planting drive to 2010 from 2015 as originally planned to reduce the country`s dependence on imported soybean, a minister said.

"There was no way we could control the soybean price in the United States and that`s why the price of the commodity in Indonesia has soared. We can no longer rely too much on imported soybean," Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said on Thursday.

Indonesia has been importing 1.2 million tons of soybean a year while its soybean consumption reached 2 million tons a year, he said.

He said the government would always try to settle any soybean-related problem so that it would not disturb the economy.

"But solving the problem will not be as easy as twisting our hand. It will take a long time to do so," he said.

Earlier in the day, the House of Representatives (DPR)`s Commission IV said it would summon its working partners in the executive branch, including the agriculture minister, next week for discussions to solve the current soybean crisis.

The skyrocketing of the soybean price in the past few weeks has attracted the attention of many quarters in society.

Some 3,000 tofu and tempeh producers staged a rally outside the Presidential Palace on Monday, urging the government to stabilize the soybean price which had jumped almost by 100 percent in the past year.

Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said on Monday the government would reduce duty on imported soybean to five or zero percent from 10 percent previously to lower its price at home.

She said the soybean price had almost doubled to US$600 a ton in the past seven months due to declining production in the US which has been Indonesia`s main soybean supplier.(*)



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