May 30, 2020

 

Indonesia to provide US$69 million aid for fisheries, aquaculture farmers

 

 

Indonesia's Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry has proposed a IDR1.02 trillion (US$69 million) incentive package for small scale fishermen and aquaculture farmers hit by the COVID-19 crisis, reported The Jakarta Post.

 

Minister Edhy Prabowo said the stimulus would include social aid for fishermen, fish farmers and salt farmers and funds to strengthen surveillance efforts against poaching.

 

"We will optimise the budget to help enable fishermen to go on fishing while also providing the farmers with seeds, broodfish and infrastructure," the minister said in an online press conference after attending a limited Cabinet meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Thursday.

 

The stimulus package, which was proposed during the meeting, will provide IDR413.27 billion in funds for fishermen and IDR406.55 billion to aid aquaculture farmers.

 

It also includes IDR36.07 billion for fish processors and marketeers, IDR54.1 billion for salt farmers, IDR106.48 billion to strengthen poaching surveillance and IDR8 billion for internal audits.

 

"We also would like to have more cold storage facilities to anticipate the possibility of slow demand as several regions are still implementing the large-scale social restrictions [PSBB]," the minister said.

 

The government has been working to ensure a secure supply of staple food across the country amid disruptions in production and logistics as a result of the pandemic. The government data presented by President Jokowi on April 28 showed that over 20 provinces faced shortages of staple foods, such as garlic, sugar, chili and eggs.

 

Jokowi stressed the requirement to provide incentives for farmers and fishermen to ensure the country's food security.

 

Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data show the agriculture, forestry and fishery sector contributed 12.84% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, the third-largest contributor after manufacturing industry and trade.

 

Edhy also said state-owned fishery companies PT Perikanan Nusantara (Perinus) and PT Perikanan Indonesia (Perindo) were preparing proposals for around IDR500 billion each in state capital injections (PMN). The two companies are tasked with buying fishery and aquaculture products to boost demand.

 

Furthermore, the minister also urged state-owned banks and financial institutions to provide loans for aquaculture farmers.

 

The government has allocated IDR34 trillion in loan interest subsidies and loan-payment relaxations for farmers and fishermen through the microcredit programme (KUR) and the government's UMi and Mekaar programmes, among others.

 

"I've sent out instructions to relax the access and procedures to get the stimulus so that our farmers and fishermen can secure funds and capital," Jokowi said on Thursday.

 

Separately, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN-ESCAP) environment and development director Stefanos Fotiou said on Thursday that countries should focus on helping poor coastal communities affected by the negative impact of the pandemic.

 

"In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the people left behind were people that did not have access to proper health care, they did not have access to proper facilities," said Stefanos.

 

The government has projected that up to 3.78 million Indonesians will fall into poverty amid the pandemic, according to its worst-case scenario. That adds to the 24.79 million people who already lived in poverty last year.

 

Fishermen's average income have fallen sharply to a range of IDR1 million to IDR1.5 million per month from IDR3 million to IDR5 million as a result of the pandemic, according to the Office of the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment's human resource development, science and maritime culture deputy, Safri Burhanuddin.

 

The pandemic is also expected to result in a decline of around 8% in production and prices, undoing an upward trend in the previous two years.

 

The government would disburse IDR600,000 in cash assistance per month for three months to fishermen and salt farmers, among other workers in the fisheries sector.