Not Rice Imports Needed for 2017: Jokowi
Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said Indonesia will not import medium quality rice this year citing production and stocks of rice in the country as sufficient.
Latest government estimates put rice production at 44.3 million tons and consumption at 33.3 million tons in 2016, leaving the country with a surplus.
Data from national procurement agency Bulog earlier this year showed Indonesia's rice stock at 1.73 million tons, more than double last year's reserve of 800,000 tons.
"I am grateful and glad that rice ... is stable. If our stock is large, [speculators] would restrain from raising prices," Jokowi said on Thursday (05/01).
The president said rice import permits this year would only be given to premium quality or specialty rice. Last year, the country imported 1.2 million tons of premium and medium quality rice to honor contracts made in the previous years.
In 2017 however, the government has declined offers from four world rice producers — Pakistan, India, Myanmar and Cambodia — to supply rice for Indonesia.
"I told them that we do not need to import rice because we have enough reserve," said Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita.
Jokowi also projected Indonesia would not need to import corn this year. The country's corn import drop to 900,000 tons last year, compared to annual average of 3.2 million in the previous years.
"If local corn production continue to increase, I am confident that we no longer need to import corn," Jokowi said.
Indonesian rice consumption is among the highest in the world, with each person consuming 114 kilogram every year. That compares to Vietnamese, who consumes 191 kilogram, Thais (147 kilogram), India (78 kilogram) and China (75 kilogram), according to data compiled by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).