The announcement came despite the government having imported 500,000 tons of rice from countries including Vietnam, Thailand, and Pakistan starting last December.

Indonesia may import another 500,000 tons of rice in 2023. (Photo for illustration)

Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the government had agreed to offer the option, arguing that the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) only had around a quarter of the required minimum reserves of 1.2 million tons.

They decided at a meeting with the President that whenever necessary, they can import again as many as 500,000 tons, the minister told a recent session with Commission VI of the Indonesian House of Representatives.

However, he noted, the government will not import rice in the near future as the harvest season is coming and the import of foreign rice may affect domestic prices.

Rice prices has kept rising in Indonesia since the year’s beginning despite the rice import since late 2022 and recent market interventions by Bulog.

Head of Bulog Budi Waseso said this agency has distributed about 230,000 tons, or nearly half of the imported 500,000 tons to stabilize prices.

He pledged continued distribution to meet demand of retailers and traditional markets, affirming that import is licensed only in emergency cases.

Source: VNA