Andi Amran Sulaiman, Indonesia's Agriculture Minister, says Indonesia is ready to become a rice exporter after Indonesia managed to become self-sufficient in rice in 2016. Last year Indonesia produced a total of 79.17 million of unmilled tons of rice, significantly above the government target that was set at 72 million tons. Although Indonesia is the world's third-largest rice producer the country usually needs to import rice from Vietnam or Thailand to maintain stable prices and meet huge rice demand at home. Rice is the staple food of basically all Indonesian people.
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Today's Headlines Rice Import
As agreed last month, this November Indonesia will start importing about 1.5 million tons of rice from Vietnam. Earlier this year, Indonesia had already imported 60,000 tons of rice to stabilize rice prices as a spike in rice prices, which the government blamed on mark-ups by market traders, caused concern. Rice is the main staple food for the Indonesian population, implying that the poorer segments of society spend a relatively large portion of their disposable incomes on rice. This means that rice inflation can cause a surge in poverty.
In order to avert a spike in inflation and social unrest, Indonesian President Joko Widodo may feel forced to allow around 1.5 million metric tons of rice imports in 2015 as domestic prices of rice have been rising on sluggish local harvests. Moreover, an intensifying El Nino is expected to cause dry weather in the months ahead hence further jeopardizing rice productivity. These already tough conditions will be exacerbated by seasonal Islamic celebrations (Ramadan and Idul Fitri) that always trigger increased consumption of food products.
The price of rice in several Indonesian regions has risen by between 17 to 23 percent to IDR 8,500-9,000 per kilogram as rice production at the start of the year has not been able to meet rice demand. In January 2015, Indonesian rice production stood at 2 million tons, whereas demand reached 2.5 million tons. Inflation of rice is a sensitive issue in Indonesia because it jeopardizes declining poverty rates as poorer segments of Indonesian society spend over half of their total disposable income on food items, primarily rice.
Latest Columns Rice Import
There are many important commodities. But if we talk about food commodities, then rice certainly ranks high. This particularly applies to Asia where the populations are dependent on rice as the basic staple food that is consumed every day (and usually up to three times per day).
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