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Jokowi Justifies Major Rice Grain Import; Notes Fear of Drought

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in a press statement on Thursday elaborated on the government’s reasoning behind the decision to import 2 million tons of rice grains until the end of this year. This import comes as controversy as the influx of imported rice is done amidst a harvest season, which in turn is feared to greatly reduce the value of local rice. 

He highlighted the possible bad weather that can potentially ruin local crops. “It is because of the possible long-drawn drought caused by el Nino,” the President said after a symbolic event with local farmers in Tuban, East Java, on April 6.

Due to the fear surrounding the weather, Jokowi claims the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) and the National Food Agency (Bapanas) are attempting to increase the volume of its available rice grain supply. He also made a statement signaling that the imports must be done before the actual draught arrives and also affects neighboring countries. 

“We do not want to be in a situation where we don’t know where we should import it from. Maybe when the drought comes and we intend to import it from Thailand, Vietnam, India, or Pakistan, but they don’t have the rice stock available. This is what we are preventing,” said Jokowi. 

In the same statement, the President is positive that the 2 million-ton rice grain import will not affect the prices of the commodity at the farmers’ level as it will be imported in several phases. The government ratified the rice import in March this year. 

Statistics Indonesia (BPS) records show that Indonesia’s rice grain import harvest in February amounted to a total of 1 million hectares of farmland, which grew to 1.8 million hectares in March. Peak harvest season is expected to last until April.

Source : Tempo