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May 2024

Indonesia considers extending rice handout programme to year end

Indonesia has been giving 10kg of rice monthly to more than 20 million low-income families since March 2023. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA – Indonesia may further extend its rice handout programme by six months until December despite easing prices, said outgoing President Joko Widodo on May 13.

South-east Asia’s biggest economy has been giving 10kg of rice monthly to more than 20 million low-income families since March 2023 to help them cope with high prices of the staple as the El Nino weather pattern-fuelled drought hits output.

The programme, which started between March and June 2023, was due to end in June 2024 after multiple extensions.

The outgoing President, popularly known as Jokowi, said the programme has been successful at curbing local prices of rice, a staple for most of Indonesia’s 270 million population.

“All global food prices are rising. Some are rising very high, and ours are still low. We should be grateful that our increases are not drastic,” he said in a statement.

The extension is subject to budget availability, he said, without explaining the source of rice for the additional programme.

Bulog, Indonesia’s food procurement firm, had bought 472,279 metric tonnes of rice from domestic harvests as at May 8, while stocks stood at 1.8 million tonnes, a company official told a weekly inflation meeting that was live-streamed.

Indonesia has imported 1.2 million tonnes of rice so far in 2024 of the allotted 3.6 million tonnes, the company said in late April.

Bulog has issued another international tender to buy about 300,000 metric tonnes of rice, European traders said on May 13.

Rice prices have eased as stocks improve in the harvest season, a statistics bureau official told the inflation meeting. REUTERS QR Code

Published Date: May 13, 2024

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