The State Logistics Agency (Bulog), which deals with food distribution and price control, will soon auction the importation of 500,000 tons of medium-grade rice by private firms. So far, Bulog has been the only importer of rice bought with state funds.
JAKARTA (alfijak): The rice to be imported will originate from Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar and Pakistan. It will arrive at Indonesian ports by the end this month, including Tanjung Priok (Jakarta), Bitung (North Sulawesi), Batam (Riau) and Medan (North Sumatra). This is according to a report by Kompas daily.
For 15 years between 2000 and 2015, Indonesia had been importing rice. Although there was no rice import in the 2016-2017 period, the government had never decided to stop import the commodity.
Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita recently shared that prices in Indonesia had continued rising since late last year due to a supply shortage.
President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, who rose to the presidency in late 2014, said the planned rice import was aimed to prevent rice prices from increasing and guarantee adequate stocks of the commodity. Medium-grade rice is widely consumed in Indonesia.
Rice is a major staple food for Indonesians and is the biggest contributor to the country’s inflation. The government’s decision to import rice early this year had sparked a public debate.
Reportedly, the decision had been based on the Ministry of Trade’s calculations, which was against the Ministry of Agriculture’s argument that Indonesia would have adequate rice stocks this year so that rice import was not necessary.
In fact, In the past years, the two ministries had often differed over food supply data.
In addition to Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Pakistan, Indonesia has also imported rice from other countries like India and Myanmar. (globalindonesianvoices.com/ac)