Indonesia to import rice after low production

rice  Rowan PeterRice imports are unavoidable for Indonesia this year because of the lower than expected unhusked rice production in 2013. (Image source: sxc.hu)The Indonesian Bureau of Logistics (Bulog) has revealed plans to import at least 600,000 tonnes of rice later this year due to low production caused by weather anomalies and poor irrigation systems

Bulog president director Sutarto Alimoeso said that the rice imports will be unavoidable because the inventory had declined sharply after the government needed to provide more rice for the poor after the recent fuel increases.

Alimoeso added that the rice imports were also necessary because of the lower than expected unhusked rice production this year, which was expected to increase only 0.31 per cent to 69.27mn tonnes due to inclement weather.

The Bulog president director noted, “Bulog has to at least keep a year-end stock of two million tonnes to supply needs and stabilise the price during the January-March planting period next year, when stocks are low. Low production combined with the additional allocation for Raskin might lead us to import 600,000 tonnes of rice to keep a minimum amount of stock.”

According to Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data, last year Indonesia produced 69.06mn tonnes of unhusked rice or around 40mn tonnes of rice. The annual national consumption of rice is around 34.05mn tonnes.

Last year, rice production rose 5.02 per cent year-on-year, enabling Bulog to purchase 3.65mn tonnes of rice domestically, which is the agency’s record high for local rice procurement.

In July last year, the government told Bulog to import up to one million tonnes of rice, but only 670,000 tonnes were brought in, 600,000 tonnes from Vietnam and 70,000 tonnes from India.

Agriculture ministry staple food director general Udhoro Kasih Anggoro said, “If we could rehabilitate the damaged irrigation systems, we could boost products by seven to nine million tonnes of rice a year.” 

Agriculture ministry infrastructure director general Gator Irianto said the government needs at least US$2.04bn to fix irrigation systems.

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