June 23, 2020 / 5:16 AM / 20 days ago

Indonesia's Bulog expects no rice imports this year

JAKARTA, June 23 (Reuters) - Indonesia food procurement agency Bulog currently has 1.4 million tonnes of rice and does not expect a need to import the grain this year, its chief executive said on Tuesday.

Bulog had to double the volume of rice released to the market in recent months in an effort to blunt a price spike caused by demand from social assistance programmes during the country’s coronavirus outbreak.

Indonesia has reported nearly 47,000 infections in the country as of Monday, the highest in East Asia outside of China.

Bulog is maximising local procurement from the recent main harvest and expects another harvest between September and November to boost supply, especially for food assistance programmes, chief executive Budi Waseso told reporters.

“Rice absorption is still on going, which convinces me that we have enough supply,” he said.

Based on the farming ministry’s output estimate and data from the statistics agency, Bulog will not require imports this year, he added.

The agency as of June 22 has procured 609,577 tonnes of rice equivalent from local farmers this year, company data showed.

In the next three months, the Bulog has been slotted by President Joko Widodo to supply 450,000 tonnes of rice for the government programmes, Waseso said, and if necessary, that may be repeated in the three months after.

Indonesia’s farm ministry is estimating unhusked rice output of 59.15 million this year and 63.5 million tonnes in 2021. (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Martin Petty)

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