Kalla responds to farmers` opposition to rice import plan

Kalla responds to farmers` opposition to rice import plan

Vice President Jusuf Kalla. (ANTARA /Puspa Perwitasari)

Makassaar, S Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - Vice President Jusuf Kalla has responded to the farmers, especially those from Java island, after they voiced opposition to the government`s plan to import rice.

Kalla on Thursday stated that the government's plan to import rice had been assessed carefully and thoughtfully.

"The government will not take any risks. If it falls short of stocks (domestic rice stock), it will add stock," he explained, after receiving the Honorary Doctorate Degree (Honoris Causa) from the State Islamic University (UIN) Alauddin Makassar, on Thursday.

The farmers in some areas in Java Island as well as in Klaten (Central Java), Bojonegoro (East Java), to Demak, Central Java, have opposed the rice import plan.

The farmers had cited the approaching harvest season as the reason for opposition. In addition, the costs incurred by farmers are also huge.

"The government does not want to take risks, if it falls short of stocks it will be added," he stated briefly.

The VP has previously asserted the government?s decision to import 500 thousand of rice because of the shortage in the supply of rice in the country.

The lack of domestic rice production is due to weather conditions, which affect the quality of rice.

In the meantime, the chairman of the People`s Consultative Assembly (MPR), Zulkifli Hasan, has reminded the government not to import rice before the harvest time, as it may cause the price of rice to drop during the harvest season.

"The decision to import rice before the harvest time creates injustice, because it will harm local farmers," Hasan stated at the Parliament Building in Jakarta on Thursday.

He called on President Joko Widodo to prevent rice imports ahead of the harvest period, as it would be detrimental to local farmers, whose incomes are already limited.

According to him, if rice imports are done before the harvest, then the rice stock will increase sharply. This will result in drastic drop in rice price, resulting in loss for local farmers.

"I appeal to the president to avoid any incidental policies that could disrupt the main policy of the government," he noted.

On the occasion, he also reminded the government to be careful while making decisions about the provision of rice stock.

According to him, although the government is trying to reduce increase in rice price, it still can create new problems by importing rice.

Hasan pointed out that even if the government is forced to import, the rice should not be stored directly in Indonesia but in the country of origin, until the very precise time to bring it to Indonesia.

"This is in order to prevent farmers, who are in the harvest time, from being affected by the drop in rice prices," he pointed out.