Issue related to rice import have in fact been discussed and debated since mid-2015. The issue was raised by government’s deliberation that el-nino and drought have made many commodity especially rice faced harvest failure. Delay in planting season and low absorption level by Bulog (National Logistic Agency of Indonesia) made rice stock in Bulog’s warehouse far below the target set by the government. But until September 2015, there had been debates among the government. Agriculture Minister and President Jokowi maintained that Indonesia still have sufficient food stock and there is no need for import. Meanwhile, the Vice President Jusuf Kalla and Minister of Trade think differently. This indicate government’s confusion in setting food import policy, and also indicate that different data being used by the two ministerial institutions in making food import policy. Consequently, issues on food import cannot be clarified yet. But in October, government finally announce the decision to purchase one million ton of rice from Vietnam and Thailand.
Farmer organizations (in particular API and SPI) criticized the decision, by consistently argue that food import decision is deviating from food sovereignty as mandated within the Nawacita vision of Jokowi’s regime. The decision to import rice also goes against Law on Food no. 18 year 2012 article 38.
Consistent refusal against food import policy was also expressed within the interview with one of Indonesian major news network Metro News, in Prime Time News program, broadcasted on Thursday (November 12, 2015) at 07 pm local time. Within the interview, Henry Saragih – SPI leader – stated that rice import policy announced by the government, or in this case by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, went against Law on Food no. 18/2012. According to the law, policy about food should be decided by President himself because food policy is under the President’s direct authority. Moreover, decision whether to import or not should be made by Minister of Agriculture who have the knowledge on agricultural condition in Indonesia (Article 38 Law no. 18/2012). Furthermore, institutional problem also cause the messiness in food management in Indonesia.