Indonesia’s rice dilemma persists even with eased import curbs amid high prices
Indonesia’s move to import more rice is facing opposition from local farmers who hope to get high prices for their cropsThe country also has other challenges ranging from stubbornly elevated rice prices to inefficient distributionIndonesiaJoseph RachmanPublished: 5:30pm, 2 Oct, 2023Why you can trust SCMP
Indonesia’s move to import rice from neighbours like China and Thailand to control a “serious” surge in prices is leading to backlash from domestic producers, highlighting Jakarta’s dilemma in balancing the interests of farmers against consumers, observers say.
State food procurement agency Bulog will import 2.3 million tonnes of rice this year to blunt the impact of the El Nino weather pattern, as hot weather in key growing regions across Asia threatens harvests. Indian export controls are also affecting rice prices.The Southeast Asian country is the world’s third-largest rice consumer, with government data showing each of Indonesia’s 270 million people eats about 114.6 kilograms of rice per year.
“Things are getting quite serious,” said Ronnie Natawidjaja, director of the Center for Sustainable Food Studies at Padjadjaran University. “The usual high-price time in Indonesia is December and March. Now it’s September and the prices are already high.”