Jakarta (ANTARA) - Head of the National Food Agency (Bapanas) Arief Prasetyo Adi stated that the relaxation of the retail price ceiling (HET) of premium-quality rice is aimed at securing stock availability of the commodity in markets.

“The HET (per kilogram) was previously Rp13,900 (around US$0.89) and then relaxed until (March) 23 to Rp14,900 (around US$0.95) to give space to improve the availability of rice,” he remarked here on Monday after attending a meeting with President Joko Widodo.

He noted that to secure rice stocks, the government is prioritizing rice from domestic production.

“We are preparing harvests in March-April because unhusked rice prices have started to be corrected, and the national average is at Rp6,700 (US$0.43). If unhusked rice prices are corrected, rice prices are automatically corrected with a note that the production must run as planned,” he stated.

The Indonesian government has implemented a temporary relaxation of the retail price ceiling for premium-quality rice, applicable from March 10 to March 23, 2024.

The relaxation targets six regions in the country. Under the policy, there is a difference of more than Rp1,000 (US$0.064) per kilogram between the previous price ceiling and the relaxed price ceiling.

The policy is aimed at maintaining premium-quality rice supply and price stability in traditional markets and modern retail stores during Ramadan and ahead of Eid al-Fitr.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated that the government faces a dilemma in maintaining a balance in rice prices, as farmers demand high prices to increase their profit, while consumers need affordable prices.

He made the statement while handing over rice assistance to beneficiary families in Labuhanbatu, North Sumatra, on Friday (March 15).

“It is hard for us. If rice prices decline, farmers complain to me. However, if rice prices rise, mothers complain to me,” he remarked in a written statement issued by the Press Bureau of the Presidential Secretariat.

He drew attention to challenges in producing rice, including climatic conditions, to meet the annual demand of 31 million tons.

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Translator: Yashinta Difa, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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