INTERNASIONAL NASIONAL

Sabtu, 10 Mei 2008

Indonesian Agriculture Minister : No Rice Exports This Year

Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said Indonesia would not export rice this year although the country had an estimated rice production surplus of two million tons, Asia Pulse reported Wednesday.

"For the time being, the government will not export rice although this year we have a rice production surplus of about two million tons," the minister said.

"Exports can be carried out if rice production at home increases by at least 5% per year," the minister said.

He said the government should not be careless in exporting the staple and regulate it well.

Domestic need for rice stood at 2.7 million tons per month so exports should not be done without proper regulation.

The government has predicted rice production this year would reach 33 million tons, well above the domestic need of 31.68 million tons, meaning there would be a surplus of about 1.30 million tons that could be exported.

Indonesia meanwhile raised domestic farmgate rice prices in a bid to support local farmers who are facing rising production costs and to track global price increases, a senior government official said Tuesday, Dow Jones reported.

The farmgate price for rice has been raised to Rp2,200-Rp4,300 a kilogram from Rp2,000-Rp4,000/kg, said Bayu Krisnamurthi, deputy of the coordinating economic minister.

The farmgate price for unmilled rice has been raised to Rp2,200/kg from Rp2,000/kg, dry milled rice to Rp2,840/kg from Rp2,600/kg and polished rice to Rp4,300/kg from Rp4,000/kg.

The farmgate price is the price Bulog, the national agency which procures commodities, pays to local farmers.

The higher prices will help offset higher production costs faced by farmers and encourage them to continue growing rice, said Krisnamurthi.

Krisnamurthi said the higher rice prices won't contribute to inflation, as the 7.5%-10% price increases are comparable with the domestic inflation rate. Consumer prices rose 8.17% on year in March.

Krisnamurthi added Indonesia will continue to prioritize its local rice industry and won't import rice until national stocks fall below 1 million metric tons.

National rice stocks currently stand at 1.4 million tons. Bulog chief Mustafa Abubakar said the stocks should last for the next 4-5 months.

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