Depok, West Java (ANTARA) - National Food Agency (Bapanas) Head Arief Prasetyo Adi stated that the government will speed up the addition of the State Logistics Agency's (Bulog's) rice stocks to face the holy month of Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

Adi noted that during a cabinet meeting on Monday (February 26), President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had urged ministries and institutions to focus on preparing food stocks to prevent scarcity or price instability.

"Today, rice has the highest inflation. Thus, rice is a concern for the president," he noted here on Tuesday.

He explained that rice stocks at Bulog's warehouses must at least reach 1.2 million tons. Meanwhile, based on the latest data, the rice stocks are at 800 thousand tons.

Currently, rice that is in the process of delivery from abroad is at around 500 thousand to 600 thousand tons.

"We must maintain stocks at 1.4 million tons," Adi remarked.

To maintain price stability, Bapanas will also fulfill rice stocks at modern retail stores and traditional markets.

The Bapanas head ensured that rice availability in traditional markets and modern retail stores will always be safe despite the rice distribution requiring a relatively long time.

Several regions have also been projected to enter the harvest season, such as Tuban, Lamongan, and Bojonegoro in East Java, Demak in Central Java, South Sumatra, and Bintan in Riau Islands.

As a measure to reduce the rice prices, the government is supplying rice to traditional markets and modern retail stores with Bulog's rice or Food Supply and Price Stabilization (SPHP) rice, which is sold at a relatively lower price.

Adi noted that the price of unhusked rice had started to be corrected, from earlier in the range of Rp8,000 (US$0.51) to Rp8,600 (US$0.55), the average national price is currently at Rp7,100 (US$0.45) per kilogram.

He pointed out that the cost of unhusked rice affected the prices of rice that will be sold in markets.

"Thus, if today, you see rice sold below Rp13 thousand (US$0.83), it is rice intervention from the government. There is no way that rice millers can produce rice at a price below it without the help of Bulog's rice for consumption in provinces," he remarked.

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Translator: Maria Cicilia, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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