Rice Imports Surge as Indonesia Rushes to Stockpile the Staple Food Grain
By: Asia Business Outlook Team | Friday, 15 September 2023
The country's statistics agency reported on Sept 15 that rice imports increased significantly in the first eight months of the year compared to the same period in 2022, as the government seeks to replenish stockpiles of the staple.
Indonesia, the most populous country in Southeast Asia with 270 million people, imported 1.59 million metric tonnes of rice from January to August, up from 237,146 tonnes imported during the same period a year ago, said Amalia Adininggar Widyasanti, the acting chief of Statistics Indonesia, during a trade data briefing.
More than half of the shipments (802,000 tonnes) came from Thailand, she said, followed by shipments from Vietnam (674,000 tonnes), India (66,000 tonnes), and Pakistan (45,000 tonnes).
The government assigned state procurement food company Bulog to import 2.3 million tons of rice this year to blunt the impact of the El Nino weather pattern, which causes dry weather in Southeast Asia. However, 453,000 tons are yet to be contracted, a Bulog official said earlier this week.
"Global rice prices are increasing. "We want to increase our strategic rice reserve, but even importing it is difficult," Indonesian President Joko Widodo said at a separate event on Friday, adding that export restrictions imposed by some countries cause difficulties in obtaining rice from abroad.
Hot weather in key growing regions across Asia threatens harvests, driving up rice prices by up to 20%, with top exporter India limiting shipments to control inflation and ensure food security for its people.