The Indonesian government is sounding out the possibility of importing rice from Pakistan amid low rice stocks following a prolonged dry season.
“We are negotiating imports with Pakistan and other countries,” said Indonesian Trade Minister Thomas Lembong in Jakarta, The Jakarta Post reported on Wednesday.
The Indonesian government, Thomas said, was preparing a government-to-government Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on rice imports with the Pakistani government.
The State Logistics Agency (Bulog) was studying the technical details of Pakistan’s rice stocks, he added.
Earlier, Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution said that because of last year’s prolonged El Niño, the rice planting season had been put back from October to November. As a result, harvest time in several areas across Indonesia suffered delays, leading to depleted rice stocks in the first quarter of 2016.
“We have calculated that we still have only 1.35 million tonnes of rice in March. Normally, we have 1.5 million tons. To fulfill the shortage of rice, we’re looking at signing MoUs with Myanmar and Pakistan,” Darmin said during a press conference.
He further explained that the agreements were a precautionary measure to anticipate reduced rice stocks, which could in turn lead to surging prices of basic commodities.
“The estimated domestic production of rice at the end of March this year will be 1.35 million tonnes. From the end of March to April, our rice production will improve as the effects of El Niño gradually lessen,” he said.