Indonesian visit: onion export resumed and major food security programme

Dutch Minister for Agriculture Sharon Dijksma is pleased with the trade mission to Indonesia. Dutch businesses in the agriculture and horticulture sectors have met with government and the private sector in Indonesia and successfully concluded a number of agreements. On the last day of the visit, the Netherlands and Indonesia also agreed that exporting onions to Indonesia can be resumed. Indonesia had previously closed its borders for fear of importing harmful organisms on onions. The two countries also took important steps towards a joint approach to food security, and they will start several climate smart projects involving dairy, poultry and fish, with investments totalling 21 million euros.

Onion export

With renewed certification by the food safety system, the Netherlands can again start exporting onions to Indonesia in 2014. The Indonesian market for onions for human consumption is growing and estimates put the Dutch export potential at over 100,000 tonnes, or some 35 million euros.

“Dutch onions will once again be a staple for Indonesian rice dishes,” Minister Dijksma said. “Market access is of vital importance for both countries. For Indonesia, the Netherlands serves as a point of access to European markets for all essential agricultural commodities, while the onion is a very important product for Indonesia as it is one of the main ingredients in many Indonesian dishes. The fact that we can once again export onions to Indonesia is a real victory for our businesses and our economy.”

Starting last year, it was no longer possible for Dutch businesses to export onions to Indonesia, as the country tightened phytosanitary legislation in 2012 to prevent the spread and transmission of insects and moulds harmful to plants and plant products. It was also no longer allowed to land onions in Jakarta, even though all facilities required are available there. These issues have now been resolved.

Food security

Minister Dijksma also agreed to set up several projects with the Indonesian government in the area of climate smart agriculture, within the larger framework of a programme on food security. This will also help increase production and quality of dairy, fish and poultry. The use of knowledge and investments from the Dutch private sector (including Friesland Campina and Nutreco), Wageningen University and other players aims to help farmers boost production and secure a more stable income, while consumers will have more access to safe and affordable proteins. A good example are milk villages in West Java, set up so small dairy farmers can collectively raise dairy cattle and receive proper training, while the quality of the milk is improved and it is properly chilled. The villages also improve dairy logistics through research and innovation.

“Food security has a high priority in Indonesia, and agriculture and fisheries are the solution,” Minister Dijksma said. “It is wonderful that Dutch know-how can contribute to more fresh milk and safer chicken and fish for the local market.”

In his meeting with the Dutch delegation, President Yudhoyono indicated that food security has his personal attention and that he attaches great value to cooperation with the Netherlands due to our knowledge and experience in this area.