Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) vouched that the government will consistently look for the reason behind the increase in the price of rice despite the current harvest period.

"We see that it is still the harvest period. (Supposedly), supply during the harvest period is plenty, and the price should be going down. Why does not this one?" the head of state remarked after the opening of the 2023 Domestic Product Business Matching here on Wednesday.

According to the Trade Ministry's data on market and staple items' monitoring, the national average price of medium-quality rice reaches Rp11,800 per kg (US$0.77) on Tuesday, March 14. Moreover, the national average price of premium rice reached Rp13,700 per kg (US$0.89), thereby turning out to be the highest record in the last five years.

"(With a rate like) this, the farmers are happy, but the consumers will (complain). I feel like the balance is something we want to maintain," Jokowi emphasized.

He admitted that it was a challenge to find a middle ground in terms of the grain price that would be agreeable to both the farmers and customers.

"(Finding the) price of rice reasonable for the trader (and also) reasonable for the consumer, that is one difficult thing," he stated.

If the end goal is just to lower the price of rice, then the easy solution is to just import them, he remarked.

"Lowering the price of rice is very simple. Just import as much as possible, and put it in the market, then the price will go down. However, what we are currently doing is maintaining a balance. When we look at it, indeed the supply is lacking, (thereby) causing a perpetually high price, so then, of course, the imports will come in," he elaborated.

In order to maintain the farmers' competitiveness, the National Food Agency has revoked circular letter number 47/TS.03.03/K/02/2023 on the limit to rice and grain prices.

It is revoked due to the latest progress in rice production and supply in terms of distribution from farmers to milling places.

In Circular letter number 60/TS.03.03/K/03/2023, issued as a follow up to the revocation of the other circular, the agency urged rice milling companies to maintain reasonable rice and grain prices.

On February 20, 2023, the National Food Agency issued a circular informing that the buying price of grain and rice prior to the harvest season in March 2023 had risen by eight to nine percent, wherein the increase in the main production costs was considered.

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Translator: Desca Lidya N, Mecca Yumna
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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