CEO of National Logistic Agency Budi Waseso. Photo: Special

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The Indonesia government through the National Logistics Agency (BULOG) would be guarantees the availability of rice stock until July 2019. Therefore, over the next six months, there would be no rice imports, stated the CEO Budi Waseso on Thursday (01/10).

The former Head of the National Narcotics Agency added that the way to maintain the availability of rice is to carry out high absorption. In coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture, the National Statistics and the Joint Farmers Group related to mapping of harvest areas throughout Indonesia, targeted uptake of up to 1.8 million tons of rice until July 2019.

He continued, the predicted the harvest began in February. For this reason, the state-owned company has emptied several warehouses in the rice production surplus area to accommodate absorption from farmers by conducting market operations. By the way, the quality of BULOG rice is maintained because old rice will be replaced with new rice.

Even so, the absorption target of 1.8 million tons still takes into account the benefits for farmers. Reportedly, BULOG’s rice stock has reached 2.1 million tons, with 1.7 million tons being imported rice.

By conducting massive market operations, estimated that it will reduce the maximum to 600 thousand tons. It means, the availability of stock plus new absorption reaching 1.8 million ton, can make BULOG’s stock of more than 3 million tons.

Despite having an abundance of rice stocks, rice imports from January-November 2018 have reached 2.2 million tons. The previous year, Indonesia only imported 300,000 tons of rice.

Economist Faisal Basri said, this figure is Indonesia’s highest import after the Soeharto era. It means, in 2018, the BULOG’s rice stock is absolutely to zero.

Regardless from that, for the rice availability in July 2019 until the end of the year, it will still see conditions in the field. But what was released to the peoples was prioritizing domestic rice.

“If indeed we have to import, we will import it according to our needs. It’s just that, with early coordination with the Statistic Indonesia and the relevant Ministry, there is real data that can be made a reference in decision making,” Waseso said.

According to him, imported rice has its own specifications in the form of flavors that are not necessarily accepted by the society. For that, the mixing process is one way for people to receive imported rice.

So far, reported that the realization of market operations and supply availability and price stabilization in 2018 are the highest in the last 10 years. In 2009, the BULOG’s realization reached 14,814 tons, but jumped dramatically to 544,649 tons in 2018, with 64,668 tons of them in the Jakarta and Banten province.

Even though, currently the price of rice in all provinces has exceeded the highest retail price of rice set by the government of Rp 9,450/kg. Based on the National Strategy Food Price Information Center, the lowest price of rice was observed in West Nusa Tenggara valued at Rp 9,900/kg. Meanwhile, the highest price of rice was found in West Sumatra, where the price per kilogram of rice penetrated Rp 14,100/kg.

Therefore, in the future, BULOG must continue to strive to guarantee the prices and markets for farmers’ production through the absorption, provided rice in every household at affordable prices, especially for poor households such as the “RASKIN” program and maintains the availability of national rice stock so that it can be channeled to the community to maintain the stability of rice prices, overcome emergencies, disasters, and food insecurity.

Written by Daniel Deha, Email: theinsiderstories@gmail.com

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