Tara Marchelin, Jakarta – The head of the Indonesian Bureau of Logistics, or Bulog, Budi Waseso, said on Monday that Indonesia has enough supply of rice to last during the coronavirus pandemic. As of April 17, Bulog still has 1.41 million tons of rice in its warehouses across the country.
"We have 1.35 million tons in government warehouses and 56,000 tons for commercial purposes. It should be enough to last during the pandemic," Budi said during a teleconference with the House of Representatives' Commission VI.
To maintain the rice supply and keep prices stable, Budi said the bureau plans to obtain 950,000 more tons of rice in 2020, around 69 percent of which will be bought directly from farmers throughout April-June.
"Dozens of regions all over the country will have their rice harvest season in April, May and June. We've set a target to buy 950,000 more tons [of rice], but we'll likely buy more, as much as we possibly could, since a prolonged pandemic might cause food scarcity," he said.
Bulog has also been buying more sago from farmers in the eastern parts of Indonesia. Budi said sago could be a substitute for rice in case supply of the latter becomes scarce.
The bureau has also been trying to keep enough sugar in reserve during the pandemic. According to Budi, as of April 17, Bulog still has a total of 9,674.81 tons of sugar in its warehouses.
Bulog has also bought 15,000 extra tons of sugar from Sugar Group Companies and proposed more raw sugar import to the government through its subsidiary Gendhis Multi Manis (GMM).
"The raw sugar import will be done in two phases. A total of 29,750 tons of raw sugar arrived in early April for the first phase. The tender process for the second phase of import has now been completed and 35,000 more tons of raw sugar should arrive here in early May," Budi said.
Bulog is also in the process of importing 50,000 tons of crystal sugar, 21,800 tons of which will arrive by the end of April. The rest will arrive by the end of May.
Budi said the bureau also has in its reserve a total of 97.41 tons of buffalo meat. Bulog was going to import 5,000 more tons of buffalo meat from India, but the country's strict lockdown policy has stopped the import for the time being.
"We were supposed to be importing buffalo meat from India from March to May, but it's been delayed by the lockdown in India until May 3. However, we've already obtained an import permit for 100,000 tons of buffalo meat," he said.
Bulog also has 1.1 million kiloliters of cooking oil, 644 tons of flour, 29.69 tons of garlic, 79.73 tons of eggs and 0.20 tons of shallots in its warehouses as part of its pandemic reserve.