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Indonesia to shore up agri exports with tech

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has far-reaching impacts on the global economy. Tighter restrictions in export controls are making huge dents in global markets and leaving these economies in a slump. 

report from the World Economic Forum showed that exports from giant economies like China and the U.S. recorded dips in exports. In China, exports fell in February last year but they rose quickly by the following month. The U.S., however, was not able to get up on its feet as quickly. While bike exports rose last year, exports for cars dropped by billions in countries like Spain, Canada, Japan and the U.S. 

Other Asian economies share the same struggle, with most governments looking at veering away from traditional means to shore up exports and shifting their gaze to newer, more innovative remedies. This is particularly the case for Indonesia, which set goals early on to streamline processes in its various sectors even before the pandemic hit. These goals were set to be realised by ramping up investments in technology and using these as tools to enhance its digital economy. 

In an earlier report by OpenGov Asia, the Ministry of Industry announced that it is accelerating its digital transformation this year by integrating human resource development and by being more adaptive to technological advancements. The Ministry noted that the workforce must be able to adapt quickly to new technology to contribute to overall operations. 

In line with this initiative, Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo in a statement encouraged the Agricultural Quarantine Agency to continue to maintain the quality of agricultural products through its Three-Time Export Movement (Geratieks) project. Pursuant to this, he pushed for the adoption of digital technology and improved synergy with existing entities and players within the agency.  

The directive, given during the Agency’s National Working Meeting, is aimed at boosting exports and has proven to be effective during its run last year. The minister said, “Indeed, this is not an easy task, but we have proven it in the first phase of 2020, where we succeeded in achieving the target of increasing the value of 12% according to the three-fold increase scheme.” 

He noted that the agricultural sector has been at the fore of supporting economic growth despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The sector still allows for improvement which can be achieved by setting up integrated programmes. Building upon the economic achievements of the sector, the ministry has encouraged stakeholders to ensure that agricultural products are globally competitive. By doing this, such products can improve the flow of exports in the country and also fortify its position in the global market.

The importance of “understanding the duties and responsibilities of each work unit to be able to execute the agricultural export multiplication agenda” was something he highlighted as well. Such an understanding aligns with the earlier mandate given by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. 

The minister took the opportunity to remind the audience that the task of the agency and other departments within the ministry is to ensure that agricultural products are of high quality not just as exports but to meet the needs of the Indonesian population. 

Ali Jamil, Head of the Agricultural Quarantine Agency, added to this discourse during the virtual meeting. He explained that the main agenda behind the event is to follow up on efforts in increasing the department’s overall supervision of agricultural products. He noted: “In essence, we will carry out the direction of the President and Minister regarding the prevention of pests and food security. Then [the Agency] will also certify agricultural products for export. Therefore, I ask all quarantine ranks to continue to analyse existing agricultural products.” 

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