Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia’s food balance shows a surplus of 11 commodities to meet public demand despite the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warning of a possible global food crisis amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a minister stated.

"When we take into account food availability, our food balance is in surplus, especially for protein sources, comprising beef, buffalo, chicken, and eggs. I can see the food balance in surplus for 11 basic food items," Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo explained here on Tuesday.

During a teleconference with farmers in some districts in Indonesia, the minister witnessed the ongoing rice and corn harvesting in 332 districts, including Serdang Bedagai, Banyuasin, South Bengkulu, Rejang Lebong, Cianjur, Balangan, Barru, Banggai, South Konawe, West Sumbawa, Dompu, and Nagekeo.

The rice harvesting season is expected to peak in April and cover 1.73 million hectares of paddy fields, with production of the commodity estimated to reach 5.27 million tons. The harvesting period in May is expected to cover some 1.38 million hectares of land, with production at 3.81 million tons.

Based on the Agriculture Ministry’s data, the national strategic food stocks during the period from March to August is estimated to reach 25.6 million tons of rice, while demand is projected at 15 million tons.

Corn supply is forecast to reach 13.7 million tons, with demand at 9.1 million tons; onion, 1.06 million tons, with demand at 701,482 tons; and red chili, 657,467 tons, with demand at 551,261 tons.

Beef/buffalo stocks are expected to reach 517,872 tons, of which 290 thousand tons were imported, with demand at 376,035 tons; chicken, two million tons, with demand of 1.7 million tons; and edible oil stocks, at 23.4 million tons, with demand at 4.4 million tons.

"We have adequate supply. Hopefully, there would be no panic, and no panicky traders nor hoarders. If the situation has run to normalcy, then our food balance is sufficient to cover demand across Indonesia," the minister remarked.

President Joko Widodo had earlier instructed his aides to closely monitor food supply, as the FAO had warned of a likely global food crisis owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Monday (April 13), the president had instructed Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian to remind all regional leaders to ensure sufficient supply of basic necessities.

"We must pay serious attention to the FAO's warning. We underline the warning that the COVID-19 pandemic can lead to a food shortage or global food crisis," he stated.

According to the FAO, disruptions in the food supply chain due to COVID-19 are minimal, so far, but challenges are already being encountered, in terms of logistics. There should essentially be unrestricted movement of food across borders and in adherence to the existing food safety standards.

To mitigate the impact of the pandemic on food and agriculture, the FAO has urged countries to fulfill the immediate food requirements of their vulnerable populations, boost their social protection programmes, keep global food trade ongoing, keep the domestic supply chain gears moving, and support smallholder farmers’ ability to boost food production. Related news: President urges ministers to protect availability of food
Related news: Government ensures adequate food stocks until next 3-4 months


Translator: Mentari DG, Sri Haryati
Editor: Suharto
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