The Ministry of Agriculture plans to screen and treat all wooden containers and packaging materials entering the country’s ports to protect domestic producers from foreign organisms or insects, a ministry official said on Tuesday.
Based on the new regulation, the wood containers and pallets, often used as packaging in larger containers, would be heated and fumigated to eradicate all dangerous organisms. “The regulation will come into effect starting September 1 this year and at present, we are informing all traders of the new regulations,” said Hari Priyono, the head of the quarantine agency at the ministry.
Wood would be treated with insecticides and heated for a minimum of 56 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes, Hari said.
Containers passing the treatment would be marked by the quarantine agency.
Three years ago, the ministry implemented the same regulation for wood containers for exported goods.
Idham Sakti Harahap, a disease control and pest expert from the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB), said that the organisms entering Indonesia through wooden containers without proper treatment could cause significant losses to the country.
In other countries like the United States, about 50,000 foreign insect species enter the country annually.
“The damage caused by the insects and pathogenic bugs cost the [United States] about $137 billion a year,” Harahap said.
Hari said that in implementing the new regulation, the ministry will cooperate with the directorate general of border customs to help them inspect the wood containers on ports, especially seaports.
It would make use of the time until Sept. 1 to make officials around the country ready for the testing procedures, he said.
“We must improve many things, for example, our checking facilities at the customs posts and seaports. Presently, we still don’t have proper facilities to check the wood containers,” Hari said.
“We also must avoid other costly delays such as the piling up of export containers at seaports,” Hari added.
Budijani Sanjata, the chairman of the Indonesian Wood Packaging Producers Association (Apjaskindo), welcomed the government’s plan to implement the new guideline. “The regulation will help us stop the spread of insect pests from other countries to Indonesia,” Budi said.