Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan informed on Thursday that he has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on importing one million tons of rice from India to anticipate the impact of the El Niño phenomenon this year.

The Ministry of Trade should conduct initiatives to confront El Niño. Rice stocks for the people must not become limited despite the drought forecast, he stressed.

"Because of this, I have already (signed) an MoU with India so that we can purchase one million tons (of rice) from time to time," Hasan said here.

The rice import agreement with India is outside of the National Food Agency's (NFA's) assignment to state-owned logistics firm Perum Bulog to import rice this year.

Perum Bulog has been tasked by the NFA to import two million tons of rice throughout this year. However, the figure does not have to be realized entirely.

According to Hasan, the latest MoU encompasses the price and availability of Indian rice. However, the purchase time has not been decided by the two countries.

"This is just MoU for fix priced. The goods exist, but we have not purchased them," Hasan said.

"However, the G-to-G (government-to-government) MoU already exists. This year, if we need them, we can buy them," he said.

El Niño is a phenomenon that occurs due to changes in sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.

The Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has informed that intensifying El Niño may trigger a drought during the dry season in Indonesia.

To anticipate the drought, Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo has handed out four tons of new superior rice seed varieties that can adapt to drought.

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Translator: Maria C G P, Fadhli Ruhman
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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