The Indonesian Association of Salt Industries (AIPGI) urges the Indonesian government to encourage investment in the country's salt industry in order to reduce reliance on imports of salt from abroad. Indonesia consumes about 4.2 million tons of salt per year. However, domestic production can only reach up to 2 million tons, hence more than half of Indonesia's salt demand needs to be imported.
Indonesia has plenty of room for more salt production. For example, the regions of East Java, Madura, West Nusa Tenggara, and East Nusa Tenggara are all regarded as potentially good salt production hubs.
Tony Tanduk, Chairman of the AIPGI, said land acquisition is a key factor to boost national salt production. Other important matters include conducive weather conditions as well as adequate infrastructure to safeguard a fluent transportation flow.
Ideally, Indonesia would have 40,000 hectares of land available for salt production. However, the actual figure is far from that target. Due to limited domestic salt supplies, many local factories that need salt have turned to imports.
Although salt production, which is one of the oldest chemical practices performed by man, is best known as ingredient for food preparation, most output is actually used in the chemical industry (a source of chlorine). Salt is also used for softening water, preserving food, and stabilizing soils for construction.
In 2016 most of the three million tons of salt that was imported into Indonesia consisted of industrial salt. Up to 70 percent of total imports were shipped from Australia.
China is currently the world's leading salt producer, surpassing the USA and Canada after having boosted the integration of upstream and downstream salt industries. China now produces up to 58 million tons of salt per year.
A few months ago Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said the government wants to achieve salt self-sufficiency by 2019 (this covers all types of salt, including industrial salt). A salt farming area extensification project is being developed by the government in East Nusa Tenggara where state-owned salt producer Garam owns 400 hectares of land.