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Jokowi to import another 1.5 million tonnes of rice to brace for El Nino

Jakarta Post - October 10, 2023

Deni Ghifari, Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said Indonesia needed to import another 1.5 million tonnes of rice to anticipate a poor harvest due to the El Nino weather phenomenon.

The import will be on top of the 2 million tonnes of rice the government assigned the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) to procure from overseas to secure the government rice reserves (CBP) earlier this year.

"[El Nino] is a problem. That is why we need to add 1.5 million tonnes more to our reserves because El Nino will affect production, impacting the harvest," said Jokowi in a press statement released on Sunday.

Jokowi made the decision after visiting a paddy field in Subang, West Java, during what is supposed to be this year's second harvest season.

Bulog is expected to conclude the 2 million-tonne import in November, as quoted from Bisnis.

Currently, the CBP stock stands at around 1.7 million tonnes and Jokowi said this was likely insufficient to weather the impact of El Nino on domestic rice production, hence the additional import was needed.

Acting agriculture minister Arief Prasetyo Adi said on Monday that the bureaucratic process for this new import had been completed. He said Vietnam and Thailand would be the two biggest sources for this import batch.

"We must not be proud about importing constantly. This is just an emergency [import] to bolster Bulog's stock," said Arief, as quoted from Bisnis.

However, Arief said it was unlikely the agency would realize the entire additional 1.5 million tonnes of rice by December, pointing to the shipment time needed to transport the rice.

Bulog official Epi Sulandari said on Monday that, per Sept. 29, the agency had imported 1.63 million tonnes with 471,826 tonnes more on the way, as reported by CNBC Indonesia.

In a meeting with the House of Representatives on Aug. 30, the ministry forecast that Indonesia could lose around 380,000 tonnes of rice this season if the El Nino weather system was of moderate intensity.

However, then agriculture minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo, said the archipelago could lose up to 1.2 million tonnes, should the weather phenomenon develop into a strong category.

A number of global meteorological agencies have forecast that this year's El Nino will be a strong one.

Supari, a spokesperson from the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), however, said a strong El Nino would have a short duration in Indonesia, as it would last throughout December into next February, which will be the country's rainy season.

"That's why the impact of a strong El Nino in Indonesia will lessen," said Supari in early October, as reported by Kompas.

Source: https://asianews.network/jokowi-to-import-another-1-5-million-tonnes-of-rice-to-brace-for-el-nino