TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo was reluctant to provide comments when asked about his previous pledge on food self-sufficiency, including rice. The question was delivered when Jokowi visited the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) to inspect the availability of rice supply.
"It is a production issue that when [rice stock] is not sufficient, it must be complemented with imports. Otherwise, price will increase. This is the role of Bulog," said Jokowi at the Bulog Regional Storage for Jakarta and Banten in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta on Thursday, January 10, 2019.
During the inspection, Jokowi was satisfied with the increased stock of rice in the storage compared to previous years. Jokowi said that the rice stock at the end of December was usually recorded at around 700,000 to 800,000 tons. But currently, the number reached 2.1 million tons. However, it should be noted that 1.7 million of the total figure was the remaining stock of imported rice in 2018.
Two months after his inauguration as President back in 2014, Jokowi pledged to provide anything necessary to achieve food self-sufficiency. According to him, Indonesia must be able to attain food self-sufficiency within three years.
He was frustrated because Indonesia is still in need of rice imports. Jokowi was also embarrassed when the Vietnamese President at the Summit in China asked him to import rice from Vietnam.
One of the factors of the unending import was the low absorption of rice by Bulog, said Dwi Andreas Santoso as the head of Indonesian Farmers' Seed Bank Association (AB2TI) in September 2018, which was refuted by Jokowi. "The harvest time is yet to come," Jokowi responded to the statement.
Therefore, Jokowi said, Bulog was ordered to continue the market operation in a bid to suppress rice price hike in markets and to reduce the stock in Bulog storage. Thus, Bulog could absorb produce from grain or rice farmers during the harvest season in February or March 2019.