Chinese, Thai fruit and veg floods Bali
Fresh farm produce from China and Thailand has been flooding local markets over the last five years, an official said.
Deddy Saleh, director of international trade at the Trade Ministry, told Bali Daily on Tuesday that imports ranged from oranges, apples, garlic and potatoes to fresh vegetables.
According to data from the ministry, imports of these commodities increased from only US$600.84 million in 2006 to $1.75 billion in 2011.
Saleh said that the increase was mainly caused by the rising demand for foreign fruit and vegetables from expatriates, tourists, as well as the local market.
There are 10 major commodities imported from China, Thailand and other countries. These include garlic ($242.42 million), apples ($153.87 million), oranges ($150.25 million), grapes ($99.84 million), lychees ($96.96 million), onions ($75.47 million) and potatoes ($47.26 million).
“Thailand and China have become the largest exporters of fresh produce since last year,” Saleh said.
The five major fruit producing countries are China, with import values to Indonesia of $332.22 million, Thailand ($171.56 million) and the US ($19.62 million). Chile has also exported various fruits to Indonesia valued at $23.08 million, as has Australia ($19.62 million).
China was also leading in exporting a variety of vegetables to Indonesia ($299.49 million), followed by Thailand ($45.67 million), Myanmar ($42.09 million), India ($33.30 million), Thailand ($45.67 million) and Vietnam ($23.98 million).
Saleh said that the imported goods entered Indonesia via a number of ports — Tanjung Priok in Jakarta; Tanjung Perak in East Java; Belawan in North Bali; Dumai; Tanjung Emas; Batu Ampar and Ujung Pandang.
Bali has become the major end-user for these products, which are absorbed by the island’s tourist industry.
Bungaran Saragih, professor of agriculture at Bogor Institute of Technology, said that Indonesia still relied heavily on imported fruit and vegetables since the land conditions locally were not suitable for cultivating such crops.
“We don’t have to force ourselves to cultivate commodities that cannot grow here,” said Saragih, former minister of agriculture.
Indonesia, he said, must cultivate plants that are native to the country, such as cacao, palm oil, coffee, rubber and others. “We have many kinds of tropical fruits and vegetables that can be exported to other countries, as well as to meet the demands of the domestic market,” he said.
“Indonesia is also strong in the fishery sector with abundant marine resources,” added Saragih.