Indonesia Rice Imports Spike as Jakarta Shores Up Stocks

The Indonesian statistics office said Friday that rice imports increased significantly in the first eight months of this year compared to the same time last year, as Southeast Asia’s largest economy looks to replenish inventories of its main grain. 

Global rice prices hit a 15-year high this week following India’s decision in July to restrict non-basmati rice exports, citing a variety of causes including skyrocketing local costs and “extreme climatic conditions.” According to Statistics Indonesia chief Amalia Adininggar Widyasanti, Indonesia imported 1.59 million tonnes of rice from January to August this year, while more than 429,000 tonnes were imported for the entire year of 2022.

“Rice imports experienced quite a high increase between January and August 2023 compared to the same period last year,” Widyasanti told reporters, without giving the import amount for the same period last year.

The majority of rice imports came from Southeast Asian neighbours, with Thailand sending 802,000 tonnes and Vietnam shipping 674,000 tonnes over the time. Because of the projected damage to rice production caused by the El Nino weather pattern, the government imposed an import quota of 2.3 million tonnes of rice this year to preserve price stability. However, rice imports were hindered by import restrictions imposed by other nations, particularly India, according to President Joko Widodo on Friday. “We want to strengthen our strategic reserve of rice, but even importing it is difficult, unlike in the past,” he remarked during a speech. 

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Widodo directed state-owned logistics business Bulog to release reserve inventories to the market on Thursday in attempt to lower rice prices. According to National Food Agency statistics, the statewide rice price was Rp14,490 ($0.94) on Friday, up roughly 16 percent from the same period last year.



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