The Jakarta Post
The Trade Ministry says it is open to rice imports to bolster stocks, as prices have increased in recent weeks.
"The option for imports is open, but it is only for premium-quality rice, so that it will not harm our farmers and rice production," said Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Previously, Vice President Jusuf Kalla had called on the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) to consider importing rice to bring down prices.
Bulog data show current rice stocks at 950,000 tons, most of which is low-grade rice to be distributed as aid for low-income families. Meanwhile, rice stocks for commercial purposes are down to just 11,000 tons, according to news agency Antara.
"Importing rice is not prohibited, but we have to carry out research to determine whether the import is necessary as the price constantly increases,” Kalla said on Tuesday.
According to the National Strategic Food Prices Information Center (PIHPSN), the price of medium-quality rice reached Rp 14,100 (99 US cents) per kilogram on average, much higher than the price ceiling of Rp 9,450 per kg.
The highest price was found in West Papua at Rp 14,250 per kg, exceeding the province’s price ceiling of Rp 10,250 per kg. The lowest price for rice, meanwhile, was found in West Nusa Tanggara (NTB) at Rp 9,740 per kg, which is still higher than the province’s price ceiling. (bbn)