"Bulog's rice stock is enough until the end of this year because it currently stands at 600 thousand tons," Director of Human Capital at Bulog, Purnomo Sinar Hadi, informed after addressing a seminar at Jenderal Sudirman University in Purwokerto, Central Java, on Thursday.
Over the past few years, the national rice needs have averaged 600 thousand to 700 thousand tons per year. However, the rice needs have risen in recent months, he said.
"This is an anomaly. (As) many rice fields are affected by disasters, the rice price has soared. When the price soared in the past couple of months, we conducted massive market operations (to stabilize it)," he added.
Asked about plans to import rice, he said that would depend on the government's policy.
"So, it depends on the government's policy whether it will assign (Bulog to import rice). If it assigns us to import rice, we will do it. The import policy hinges on the government," he added.
Bulog President Director Budi Waseso said on Wednesday that the government has tasked the agency with importing rice to secure the national stock, which currently stands at 594 thousand tons.
"There has been a decision reached at a limited coordination meeting. At the meeting, all relevant ministers agreed to the decision. Bulog only realizes the order or assignment," he informed at the parliament building in Jakarta.
During the meeting, Bulog was tasked with securing rice stocks under the Supply Availability and Price Stabilization (KPSH) program, a market operation aimed at intervening in rice prices and fulfilling the nation’s needs in the event of an extraordinary occurrence.
The latest decision mandates Bulog to procure 500 thousand tons of rice from local farmers and import 500 thousand tons of rice in order to secure national stocks.
Since 500 thousand tons of domestic rice is not available, Bulog has ordered 500 thousand tons of imported rice that can be shipped to Indonesia anytime, he said.
Meanwhile, Chief of the National Food Agency Arief Prasetyo Adi said Bulog's rice stocks are running low and could potentially decline to 300 thousand tons as the rice will be used for market operations spread over one and a half months.
If the rice stocks are running low, the impact will be dangerous because the state will have no food deposits in the event of a natural disaster, he cautioned.
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