Indonesia May Import Rice Amid Production Drop

Rabu, 12 Maret 2014 | 10:23

There is an increasing opportunity to import rice to fulfill national needs amid national production drop.

Although the government has repeatedly claimed that Bureau of Logistics will not import rice in 2014 due to sufficient bufferstock, several experts assume the national rice production will almost certainly drop.

“Earlier this year, flood, volcanic eruptions, crop failure and pest attack have occurred, whereas buffer in warehouse must be sufficient. It is certainly less this year. Provision should have been started this March. However, part of the previous crop failed to harvest,” said Indonesian Rice Mill and Rice Entrepreneurs Association (Perpadi) Nellys Sukidi to Bisnis, Monday (3/10).      

National rice production per year ideally should rise at least 5%, following the growth of domestic needs. It will be difficult to fulfill bufferstock uptake from domestic whenever the production does not reach the figure. As the result, there is a bigger chance of import.

Data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS) shows rice production in 2013 stood at 71.29 million tons of husked rice (GKG) or 3.24% higher from 2012. It is equivalent to production of 44.82 million tons of rice (with rice production equivalent to 62.87% of the total productions).

“Ideally, 40 million tons could lead to surplus. The data on land conversion is inaccurate, so how can we find the right ones?”    

Senior Economist of Institute for Development of Economic and Finance (Indef) Bustanul Arifin said BPS’ data is not representative to calculate the number of national rice production.

“If we trust BPS’s data, we do not need to import rice anymore. If in doubt, Bulog will certainly import 400,000 tons this year,” said Bustanul who is also a Professor of agricultural sciences at University of Lampung to Bisnis.

Last Minute Import

Benny Kusbini, Head of National Horticulture Board, confirms that national rice reserve is certainly secure at this moment. However, such sufficiency will only last until the third quarter of 2014 before the import is finally executed.

He believes imported rice will enter Indonesia by the end of the year. Import may be executed after harvesting period while the new government is focusing on cabinet establishment.

“Early, flood occurs everywhere, damaging lots of rice fields. We have legislative election in April, presidential election in July, and presidential inauguration. All people focus on election issues. This is when rice imports are carried out secretly,” he told Bisnis. 

Nellys shares the same opinion. If import is the only option available, it must be carried out after harvesting period so we can know how much they can absorb local production.

“The crucial months are March, April, and May. If those months Bulog cannot reach its target, it must take measure immediately,” he said.

Dwi Andreas Santosa, Professor of Agriculture Faculty at Bogor Agricultural University (IPB), predicts the total rice imports this year may exceed 1.5 million tons either by Bulog or private parties.

“If rice production can grow as it did last year at 2.6%, rice import will reach around 1 million tons. However, rice production this year is likely to get disrupted due to flood at MT1, pest attack, plant disease and dryer climate than in 2013,” he told Bisnis.

With such condition, Dwi who is also Chairman of Indonesian Seed Bank Association (AB2TI), forecasts this year’s production is certainly lower than last year.

“If so, the overall rice imports may reach between 1.7 million tons-2.1 million tons for 2014.” (t06)

by Wike D. Herlinda, Arsyad Paripurna