TEMPO.CO, Semarang - The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is considered to be a threat for tobacco farmers in Central Java because the government does not have a clear regulation on tobacco imports.
"The [government] applies frees import of tobacco from China, the United States, Zimbabwe, Turkey and India," said Wisnu Brata, chairman of the Central Java chapter of Indonesian Association of Tobacco Farmers (APTI), on Wednesday, January 27, 2016.
Wisnu explained that tobacco imports from the aforementioned countries have flooded Indonesia's tobacco market with foreign tobacco. "This condition resulted in disadvantages for farmers," said Wisnu.
In 2015, tobacco import volume was recorded to be more than 110,000 tons. The highest number was recorded back in 2012 when 150,000 tons of imported tobacco enters Indonesin market. Wisnu hoped that the government can provide a detailed explanation to farmers about the reason behind tobacco imports so that farmers would have clear information on which type of tobacco they should produce. "We are not anti-import, but the government's policy should not harm [tobacco] farmers,” said Wisnu.
Purbayu Budi, professor at the Diponegoro University, said that there might be indications of international politics attempting to dominate Indonesia's tobacco market. "The government must be careful. The policy must be beneficial for farmers. Cigarette is not a commodity that can be taken lightly," said Purbayu.