WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Indonesia is increasing its use of soybeans for feed in part because of the corn import ban that has made corn prices among the highest in the world.

The estimate of soybean for feed use in 2016-17 was revised up to 150,000 tonnes and for 2017-18 it was revised to 160,000 tonnes, according to a report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Feed compounders are using more low-grade feed wheat and then full fat soybeans to balance the overall fat content.

Wheat is being used because of the high prices of domestic corn.

As part of its overall food self-sufficiency campaign, the Ministry of Agriculture is considering a draft regulation to restrict soybean imports. It would restrict imports to when domestic supply is deemed insufficient; establish BULOG as the sole importer; prohibit imports during the domestic harvest period; and raise tariffs to as high as 19.1%, the USDA said.

The agriculture ministry would need support from other ministries to enact such regulations, and they are aware that limits to soybean imports would impact several thousand small and medium sized tempeh/tofu producers, the USDA said.

Overall soybean production is not forecast to change, despite the ministry’s plan to double planting area by the end of 2017.

The initial plan was to distribute seeds from October to December, the beginning of the wet season.

However, soybeans are typically planted as a dry season crop between paddy and/or corn plantings, the USDA said.

“In addition, arable land is insufficient to expand soybean area, and growing corn or rice is more profitable,” the agency said. “For these reasons, MOA’s soybean area expansion campaign is unlikely to result in any significant output increase.”