Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's National Food Agency (Bapanas), together with the State Logistics Agency (Bulog), is preparing additional rice assistance for late 2023 and early 2024 to anticipate the impact of El Nino.

"In accordance with President Joko Widodo's direction that the second phase of rice food assistance be continued until December, of course, we will swiftly prepare for it," Bapanas Head Arief Prasetyo Adi informed here on Friday.

The provision of rice assistance, which was initially targeted for three months from September to November, has been extended till December 2023, he said.

The rice assistance will continue to be disbursed until March 2024. The step is aimed at maintaining price stability. Further, the impact of El Nino from September to October is still expected to be felt by the community two months later.

According to Adi, to provide the assistance in December, Bulog will need around 200 thousand tons of rice. For the rice assistance for January–March 2024, it will need more than 600 thousand tons of rice.

"Regarding the plan to continue rice assistance until March next year (2024), we will prepare it with the relevant ministries and agencies as well as Bulog. Detailed preparation, especially for ensuring the availability of stocks, must become a focus," he said.

The number of beneficiaries of the assistance has been revised by the Ministry of Social Affairs from 21.3 million to 20.662 million per month, he informed.

He said that the accuracy of beneficiary data has been improved to ensure that the rice assistance is right on target. If a beneficiary does not match the data, then the data can be replaced by the village government.

"If there are complaints from people who have not been included as beneficiaries, of course, they can immediately report to the neighborhood heads or village heads, which will then be verified by the local regional social office," he added.

The Bapanas head said that the beneficiaries of rice assistance are low-income people who are registered in the database of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The disbursal of the second phase of rice assistance, which began on September 11, 2023, reached 65.82 percent or 407,250,560 kilograms as of October 24. The total volume of rice distributed is targeted to reach 618,687,480 kilograms by November.

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Translator: Kuntum Khaira, Raka Adji
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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