Government Increases Quota to Guarantee Rice Availability
By : Arzan Malik Narendra )*
Basic needs, such as rice, have always been the government’s main focus in maintaining people’s welfare. In the midst of the challenges faced, the Indonesian Government, through various strategic steps, continues to strive to ensure the availability of sufficient rice for all its citizens.
One of the significant steps recently announced was an increase in the rice import quota by 1.5 million tonnes. The Main Director of Perum Bulog, Budi Waseso, confirmed that from the additional quota, 500 thousand tons of rice will arrive in Indonesia in mid-December 2023.
However, questions arise regarding the distribution of imported rice as well as concerns regarding the issue of synthetic rice. To discuss this further, we will embrace the views of various sources and explore the impact of increasing the rice import quota.
According to Budi Waseso, who is familiarly called Buwas, as many as 500 thousand tons of imported rice came from various countries. In an effort to deal with the long El Nino drought, the Government has decided to increase rice imports by 1.5 million tons.
In this situation, Arief Prasetyo Adi, who acts as interim Minister of Agriculture, has underlined the significance of additional rice imports in maintaining adequate rice supplies in the country.
His statement reflects the government’s determination to overcome the impact of the drought season and ensure national food security. He emphasized that the addition of 1.5 million tonnes of imported rice was an important step to provide further support.
However, the issue of distribution of imported rice is also an important concern. According to Buwas, imported rice has been distributed to all provinces in Indonesia, except West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Province. This creates a unique situation where the only region that has not received imported rice is NTB.
The President Director of Bulog stated that rice stocks in NTB are quite safe, and his party has ordered strict monitoring of rice supplies there to maintain availability. This is in line with the policy of prioritizing local supplies in rice producing areas.
On the other hand, we also see different problems in South Sulawesi Province, which is actually the national rice barn. Even though it has sufficient rice production, this province has to accept imported rice.
Buwas explained that the influx of imported rice into South Sulawesi was due to the delivery of South Sulawesi rice to other areas experiencing rice shortages. This creates a supply imbalance that should be addressed.
Therefore, Buwas gave a message to rice producing regions to regulate restrictions on the release of rice from their regions so that supplies for their own regions are maintained.
The importance of the safety aspect of imported rice cannot be overlooked. Budi Waseso guarantees that all imported rice arriving at Bulog’s warehouse has passed a series of strict checks.
Before being loaded in the country of origin, imported rice has been inspected by an independent surveyor, and after arriving in Indonesia, the Indonesian Quarantine Agency carries out further inspections. In this way, imported rice stored in Bulog warehouses is guaranteed to be safe and suitable for consumption.
Apart from that, the issue of synthetic rice which had surfaced in society was considered an unwarranted hoax, spread by parties who wanted to disrupt the stability of the supply and price of rice.
Budi Waseso also emphasized that they had collaborated with the Police Food Task Force to monitor and take legal action against parties who spread fake news about synthetic rice.
In the current situation, maintaining public calm and ensuring sufficient rice supplies are the government’s top priorities.
Meanwhile, the Head of the Center for Plant Quarantine and Biosecurity at the Indonesian Quarantine Agency, M. Adnan, ensured that all imported products entering Indonesia had gone through strict inspection procedures, including rice imports.
This includes administrative, health and food safety checks. With existing procedures, the public can have confidence that imported rice on the market is safe for consumption.
Therefore, increasing the rice import quota by 1.5 million tons is a strategic step that must be carefully considered in maintaining the availability of rice in Indonesia.
However, this also shows that the distribution and monitoring of rice supplies, especially in producing areas, is an important factor that must be improved. The safety of imported rice is also in the spotlight to maintain the quality of rice circulating on the market.
With joint efforts from the government and society, we can maintain food security and ensure that all Indonesians have access to safe and quality rice. All parties must play an important role in maintaining the stability of rice supplies and stay away from hoaxes that can damage public trust.
With careful and collaborative steps, we can ensure that rice remains a guaranteed source of life for all Indonesian people. The invitation to all citizens is to remain calm, support the government’s steps, and participate in maintaining the availability of rice for the sake of shared prosperity.
)* The author is a contributor to the Nusa Cyber Institute