The President’s directive comes on the back of a warning issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, which has predicted the COVID-19 pandemic could trigger a global food crisis.
"Make sure that our rice stocks are sufficient. Please, calculate them accurately. Also, make a precise prediction of our rice production as we are entering the dry season. How long will our national rice reserves last?" he told the concerned authorities in Jakarta on Tuesday.
President Jokowi raised issues related with staple food stocks during a virtual cabinet meeting with Vice President Ma'ruf Amin and ministers, which took place at the Merdeka Palace.
President Jokowi requested the authorities to calculate the national rice stocks by referring to valid and reliable empirical data. "Please, calculate it accurately. Do not overestimate," he urged.
The President then reiterated FAO’s warning that the current coronavirus pandemic could trigger a food shortage across the world.
Indonesia needs to be cautious because all countries, including rice producers, would prioritize their domestic needs, he said, adding that the imposition of a lockdown could affect the staple food supply chain.
Speaking about the rice supply chain, President Jokowi highlighted the importance of securing the supply chain from farmers by implementing the principles of good governance.
To this end, Jokowi ordered the Food Task Force to coordinate with the National Police in monitoring staple food stocks and their supply chains.
State Logistics Agency (Bulog) president director Budi Waseso recently revealed that as of April 17, 2020, the total rice stocks stored at Bulog stood at 1.41 million tons.
In connection with the impact of COVID-19 on global food security, the Food and Agriculture Organization had earlier warned of a looming food crisis.
However, this worst-case scenario could be avoided if "measures are taken fast to protect the most vulnerable, keep global food supply chains alive, and mitigate the pandemic's impacts across the food system", according to the FAO.
The FAO, on its official website, expressed the opinion that "border closures, quarantines, and market, supply chain, and trade disruptions could restrict people's access to sufficient/diverse and nutritious sources of food”. (INE)
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