Manado (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo distributed food assistance sourced from the government's rice reserves to more than 1,000 beneficiary families in Bitung City, North Sulawesi, on Friday.

"The government is distributing this food aid in an effort to prevent rice prices from skyrocketing amid the recent rise in prices," said Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi.

He reiterated that the global heat phenomenon El Nino is responsible for the spike in rice prices, noting that such a trend is not unique to Indonesia.

Jokowi asked beneficiaries whether they had received food assistance for January or not. The beneficiaries replied that they had.

He added that the government will continue to distribute 10 kilograms of rice to each beneficiary every month up until June this year.

The government may extend the provision of the aid beyond June if the APBN (State Budget) allows, he stated.

"We will later reassess the capacity of the APBN before deciding on the continuation of the aid distribution after June. However, I cannot promise it," he told the beneficiaries.

Jokowi made a working visit to North Sulawesi on February 22–23, 2024. He began his agenda in the province on Thursday evening by greeting the residents of Manado City at a shopping center.

The next morning, he inaugurated Lolak Dam in Bolaang Mongondow district before heading to Bitung City to hold a dialogue with participants of the Prosperous Family's Economy (Mekaar) Program and hand out the rice assistance.

Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Erick Thohir, Minister of Public Works and Public Housing Basuki Hadimuljono, and Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono accompanied Jokowi to Bitung.

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Translator: Nancy L, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Anton Santoso
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