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Indonesia eyes to import 1 mln tons of rice from China – official

The Indonesian government is looking to import one million metric tons of rice from China in a bid to bolster its stockpiles, head of the National Food Agency (NFA) said on Tuesday.

Southeast Asia’s most populous country, with 270 million people, has assigned state food procurement agency Bulog to import 2.3 million metric tons of rice this year, to blunt the impact of the El Nino weather pattern – typically associated with extreme weather events from wildfires to droughts – as hot weather in key growing regions across Asia threatens harvests.

The NFA estimated drought in several parts of the country, worsened by the El Nino weather phenomenon, could shrink rice output by 5% to 7% this year from 31.54 million tons last year.

“We have opened an option to import one million metric tons of rice from China. The president have discussed this with his counterparts during the ASEAN summit,” Arief Prasetyo Adi, head of the NFA told Reuters.

Arief said that Indonesia is also talking to Cambodia, which has agreed to export 10,000 metric tons of rice.

According to the country’s statistics agency, Indonesia imported 1.59 million metric tons of rice in the January-August period, up from 237,146 tons imported during the same period a year ago.

More than half of the shipments originated from Thailand at 802,000 tons, followed by shipments from Vietnam at 674,000 tons, 66,000 tons from India and 45,000 tons from Pakistan.

Rice prices rose at the fastest pace in over a decade. The average climbed as much as 16% from the same month a year earlier to 14,000 rupiah ($0.91) per kilogram, the highest since at least March 2017, central bank data showed.

Previously, President Joko Widodo assured that the country’s rice stock is sufficient amid rising prices.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Dewi Kurniawati, Editing by Louise Heavens)

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