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JAKARTA: Indonesia’s Bulog has imported 1.6 million metric tons of rice so far this year to replenish stocks as the government anticipates output disruptions due to the El Niño weather pattern, the state food procurement company said on Friday.

Bulog was assigned to import 2 million tons of rice for the year, as the dry weather pattern is set to bring drought to parts of the archipelago.

“Aside from optimising domestic procurement, we are also intensely coordinating with exporting countries to accelerate rice arrivals in Indonesia,” Bulog’s director Mokhamad Suyamto said in the statement. Bulog said the imports are aimed at increasing the government’s rice inventory, which could be released to the market to help stabilise prices when supplies are tight.

As of Aug 10 it had also procured 780,000 metric tons of rice domestically of the 2.1 million tons targeted for domestic procurement this year.

Indonesia’s rice production during the January-April harvest period was estimated at 13.79 million tons, while experts warned rice output during harvests in the second half of the year is expected to be lower. As of Friday, the country’s average rice price had risen to 13,550 rupiah ($0.8909) per kg, up 14.83% from a year earlier. Indonesia has increased its social welfare budget by 8 trillion rupiah to distribute more rice to lower-income households and help control food prices, the finance minister said last month.

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