No need for Indonesia to import rice in 2012

The Indonesian government does not need to import rice this year as the domestic supply is forecast to be sufficient to meet the country’s rice stockpile target to counter possible impact of global weather phenomenon, Agriculture Minister Suswono Arsyaf said here Friday.

Suswono said that bumper rice harvests in the vast archipelago country this year were expected if weather condition was favorable and there was no other disturbance.  Rice output would be more than needed by the target set by state logistic agency(Bulog) of 2. 6 million tons to raise the stockpile to 4 million tons in 2012, said Suswono.  He said currently the country’s rice stockpile was about 1.4 million tons.

“So, import is not necessary. On condition that the Bulog can purchase rice from farmers smoothly,” he said.

For the first harvest season in March and April, the  minister said that the agency would be able to purchase about 2 million tons of rice, and the rest of about 600,000 tons at the second and the third rice harvests later this year.

“I think Bulog is expected to purchase 2 million tons of rice from farmers as the production at this first great harvest season is good. The weather condition is good, no indication of disturbance,” said Suswono.

To support the agency purchasing rice from farmers, the government this week increased minimum rice price it buys from farmers to 6,600 rupiah (some 0.726 U.S. dollar) per kg from 5,060 rupiah ( about 0.557 dollar).

Last year, Indonesia imported 1.9 million tons of rice from Vietnam, India and Thailand.

Indonesia has also joined rice reserve for ASEAN plus three countries.

Indonesia, with a population of some 238 million, has forecast to produce 68 million tons of unmilled rice this year.

Last year, the country’s unmilled rice output was expected at 65.39 million tons, the statistic bureau has said.

Indonesia had experienced disturbance on food supply following an extreme weather phenomenon at the end of 2010 that pushed inflation to a 21 month high to 7.1 percent in January. <Xinhua>

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