Banjarbaru, S Kalimantan (ANTARA) - South Kalimantan Province is expected to record up to 160,000 tons of surplus rice in August, 2020, so residents need not worry about rice stocks amid the coronavirus pandemic, a local government official said.

Surplus rice production would help ensure food security in South Kalimantan until the end of 2020, head of the South Kalimantan Provincial Government's Crops and Horticulture Office, Syamsir Rahman, told journalists in Banjarbaru on Wednesday.

The harvest in April, 2020 is expected to yield 102,700 tons of rice, he said, adding that South Kalimantan has a population of around 4.2 million people, and they are expected to consume 33,425 tons of rice per month.

"The data shows that we are enjoying a rice surplus," Rahman noted.

The rice surplus is distributed across 11 rice-growing districts across South Kalimantan Province, except Banjarmasin and Banjarbaru which have limited paddy fields.

Three districts that have reported high rice surplus are Tanah Laut, Barito Kuala, and Banjar, while rice production in other districts, such as Hulu Sungai Utara, Tabalong, and Tapin, is just enough to meet their own demand, Rahman said.

Indonesia's rice stocks have become a matter of concern for the government. President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) on Tuesday asked officials to ensure that their assessment of Indonesia's rice stocks was accurate as the nation entered the fasting month of Ramadhan and the dry season amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The President's directive came 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?" the President said.

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. (INE)

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Translator: Ulul Maskuriah, Rahmad Nasutio
Editor: Suharto
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