Jakarta (ANTARA) - Head of the National Food Agency (Bapanas), Arief Prasetyo Adi, stated that rice and sugar imports from India had been hampered due to the country's policy restriction and local political issues.

"We have not imported sugar and rice from India, only basmati rice, due to their regulation," Adi noted in a statement on Friday.

Adi explained that the delay in imports of rice and sugar from India was due to export restrictions on several food products implemented by the Indian government, along with other political issues.

"They have their own strategy in the food sector. Moreover, 2024 is also their political year," he stated.

Earlier, Adi noted that an Indian diplomat had met with Indonesian Trade Minister Zulkifli Hasan and promised to provide one million tons of rice for Indonesia.

"However, in the following week, India banned it due to political reasons. We have no other choice but to seek from other countries. We can fulfill it," he remarked.

Adi noted that his side and state-owned logistics company, PT Bulog, were mandated by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to seek two million tons of rice to meet food needs in the country due to the lack of national production caused by the El Nino phenomenon.

He revealed that the mandate had been fulfilled with rice imports from Vietnam, Thailand, Pakistan, and Cambodia. However, he did not specify the amount of rice imported from these four countries.

"Our rice does not have to be from India. It can be from anywhere. We are talking about the quantity to fulfill our needs, not the origin country," he emphasized.

However, Adi admitted that his side was not proud of importing rice. The decision to import rice must be taken to maintain the availability of food supplies in the country.

He noted that fulfilling the availability of national food supplies still prioritizes domestic production as mandated by Law Number 18 of 2012 concerning Food.

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Translator: Muhammad Harianto, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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