Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Ministry of Agriculture and the Indonesian Military (TNI) have distributed 155 tons of rice through automated dispensing machines to people severely affected by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a government official said.

"We are working with the TNI to distribute free rice through automated dispensing machines set up in 10 compounds of district military commands in Greater Jakarta areas," Gatut Sumbogodjati, a top official with the Agriculture Ministry, said in a press statement that ANTARA received in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Rice is being provided through the automated dispensing machines since the first day of Ramadhan and the provision will continue during the holy fasting month, he informed.

The free rice distribution through the machines is part of the Indonesian Government’s efforts to ensure food security for community members amid the ongoing pandemic that has significantly cut incomes.

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Automated dispensing machines providing free rice for coronavirus-affected people have been set up in 10 compounds of the district military commands in Central Jakarta, North Jakarta, East Jakarta, South Jakarta, Tangerang, Bekasi, Depok, Bogor City, and Bogor District.

Thanks to the automated dispensing machines, about 1,000 eligible families have been able to avail the free rice program. Each of the eligible recipients can take 1.5 kg of rice per day.

Representatives from the eligible families should follow COVID-19 protocols, such as practicing physical distancing, when taking their daily rice quota from the machines, Gatut Sumbogodjati said.

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The coronavirus disease, which initially struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019, has since spread to at least 202 countries and territories, including Indonesia, with a massive spurt in death toll.

The Indonesian Government officially announced the country's first confirmed cases on March 2 this year. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has weakened the purchasing power of scores of Indonesian families, particularly those who have lost their jobs.

President Joko Widodo has highlighted the importance of fostering the spirit of "gotong royong", or mutual cooperation, in responding to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, arguing that the government cannot work alone to fight the spread of coronavirus infections.

"The entire nation's participation is indispensable," President Jokowi declared in a video statement from the Bogor Presidential Palace recently.

“The caring-and-sharing movement must be made public. This is not aimed at showing off, but at keeping hope alive, and inspiring others to do the same good deeds,” he pointed out.

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Translator: Aditya R, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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