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Jokowi orders food agency to 'flood market' with rice

Jakarta Post - February 12, 2024

Jakarta – Responding to reports of a scarcity of rice in the market, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has ordered the National Food Agency (Bapanas) to release stock kept by the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) in a move that the President deemed as "flooding the market".

Head of Bapanas, Arief Prasetyo Adi, said the agency together with Bulog and other relevant ministries had received the order from the President to deal with rice scarcity both in traditional and modern markets around the country.

"Currently, the stock kept at the Cipinang Central Rice Market is 34,000 tons and this must reach both traditional and modern markets. Once again, the order is to flood the market," Arief told reporters after a meeting with President Jokowi on Monday.

Responding to a further order from President Jokowi, Arief said he would conduct a spot check at the Cipinang Market, joined by State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir and head of Bulog Bayu Krisnamurthi.

Buyers complained over the weekend about the scarcity of rice, especially the premium type which comes in 5-kilogram bags.

The price of the commodity has increased to between Rp 16,000 (US$1.02) and Rp 17,000 per bag from Rp 13,000.

Due to the high price, modern retailers have decided not to stock the premium type in their outlets.

In the lead-up to the Feb. 14 presidential election, President Jokowi has increased the amount of rice distributed to the country's poor under the guise of social assistance (Bansos).

The government in January had postponed the delivery of rice aid following controversy that the program was politically motivated.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/business/2024/02/12/jokowi-orders-food-agency-to-flood-market-with-rice.htm