JAKARTA, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- An Indonesian minister criticized the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) over its report issued last week that criticized the nation's policy of food self-sufficiency, accusing the global research body of hypocrisy given similar policies are in place in developed countries, local media reported on Monday.
"They were not being objective," Agriculture Minister Suswono said. "In developed nations, the agricultural sector is subsidized and protected by the government."
He said the United States, a member of the OECD, provided 383 million U.S. dollars in disaster relief funds to shield livestock producers from volatility in feed prices.
Suswono said the policy amounted to protectionism, the offense of which Indonesia stands accused.
He said Indonesia would stand by its policy of securing the nation's foods supply via a self-sufficiency program.
The OECD report said that the Indonesian government's food self- sufficiency goal starves poor consumers, including the majority of Indonesian farmers, who buy more staples such as rice, cooking oil and sugar than they sell.
The OECD, which counts as members most developed nations, said that Indonesia, the world's 10th largest agricultural producer, should open its food markets to international trade and move away from its "self-sufficiency" objectives.
The report also criticized the government's use of import protection to increase returns to farmers because the policy also led to an increase in food costs for poor consumers and hindered the competitiveness of the agricultural sector, the Jakarta Globe reported.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has set the goal of making the nation self-sufficient in rice, cattle, sugar, corn and soybean by 2014.
The government imposed either taxes or quotas on imports of the five commodities in order to encourage local farmers to produce and discourage imports.
Suswono said that foreign entities should not intervene in the government's effort to boost local production.
The policy seeks to control the price local farmers receive for their goods.
The government has been grappling with the rising global commodities price, including for items that are popular among Indonesian consumers.
In August, the price of soybean rose sharply, causing the price of products such as tempeh and tofu to increase significantly. In response to the public outcry, the government scrapped import duties for soybean, but it had little impact on the price. The experience prompted public calls for local production of the commodity.
The OECD report also noted that Indonesia is becoming increasingly hostile to foreign investment in the agriculture sector, with the exception of palm oil, by imposing export taxes on several commodities. This is seen as limiting investors' ability to sell products overseas.
Indonesia has been criticized elsewhere for the adverse consequences of its move toward beef self-sufficiency.