TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - President Joko Widodo or Jokowi asserted the government would not import rice until June 2021 and called for a halt to lingering arguments on rice imports.
Jokowi said he feared the polemics would lead to plummeting prices of unhusked paddy ahead of the harvest season. “I call for an immediate end to all debates related to rice imports. This can cause the prices of unhusked rice on the farmer level to plunge,” Jokowi said in a press conference on Friday, March 26, 2021.
Jokowi acknowledged there were MoUs with Thailand and Vietnam on rice imports, yet they were mere precautions given the uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’ll say this one more time, the rice has not come yet. I assure that farmers’ rice will be absorbed by Bulog [State Logistics Agency]. And I will order the Finance Minister to help with the budgeting. I am aware that we are entering the harvest season and rice prices on the farmer level are still not as expected,” Jokowi said.
Earlier, the Coordinating Economic Ministry and the Trade Ministry agreed to import one million tons of rice this year. On the contrary, the Agriculture Ministry and Bulog said domestic rice stocks and supplies were abundant, thus imports were superfluous.