Indonesia Faces Loss of 1.2 Million Tons of Rice Due to El Nino

Indonesia is bracing for a significant loss in rice production, with up to 1.2 million tonnes at risk due to the impacts of El Nino-induced drought. This predicament also underscores challenges in securing rice reserves amidst a backdrop of uncontracted imported rice. The nation’s food security landscape for 2023 has come under scrutiny.

The Advisory Council of the Indonesian Agricultural Economics Association (Perhepi) and former Deputy Minister of Trade Bayu Krisnamurthi, emphasized that the looming threat of reduced rice output due to El Nino’s climatic disruptions constitutes a short-term dilemma.

Indonesia’s Minister of Agriculture, Syahrul Yasin Limpo, outlined the forecasts of reduced rice production due to El Nino during a recent work meeting. He indicated that the nation could potentially lose 380,000 tonnes of rice due to the prevailing El Nino conditions, and in an extreme scenario, this loss could escalate to 1.2 million tonnes. In response, the government has unveiled plans to dedicate an additional 500,000 hectares for rice cultivation.

To bolster cultivation efforts, an increase in planting areas has been implemented across 100 districts in ten provinces. The provinces with the largest expansions include Central Java, South Sulawesi, South Sumatra, East Java, and South Kalimantan. Measures encompass the provision of water sources, seed and fertilizer distribution, as well as insurance and financial oversight.

The Ministry of Agriculture has classified the risk of drought across rice farming lands into categories ranging from low to very high. It is projected that, during the months of July to September 2023, over 250,000 hectares of land are expected to face varying degrees of drought.

In the face of these challenges, the National Food Agency (Bulog) remains committed to ensuring food availability. Budi Waseso, Director of Main Perum Bulog, stated, “With the current El Nino situation, our reserves of 1-1.2 million tons are expected to last until March 2024, by which time a substantial harvest is anticipated.”

As the distribution of rice for various programs continues, concerns about high market prices persist. Local analysts indicated that the retail price for medium and premium rice stood at Rp 12,340 ($0,81) and Rp 14,000 ($0,92) per kilogram, respectively. Indonesia’s National Food Agency Regulation, approved in 2023, establishes the highest retail prices for medium and premium rice. Despite these regulations, the average market price for medium rice currently surpasses the established limits.

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