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JAKARTA: Indonesia’s 2023 rice output is expected to drop by 2% to 30.90 million metric tons, as extreme dry weather driven by the El Nino weather pattern affects its harvests, the statistics bureau said on Monday.

The prediction was based on output data as of August and an estimate for harvests in September to December, according to the bureau.

“Prolonged drought caused by El Nino has resulted in planting and harvesting failure in many areas,” acting statistics bureau chief Amalia Adininggar Widyasanti told a press conference.

The rice harvest area for 2023 was estimated at 10.2 million hectares (25.2 million acres), down from 10.45 million hectares a year ago.

Indonesia imported 1.79 million tons of rice in the January-September period, statistic bureau data showed, up from 288,707 tons in the same period last year.

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The biggest shipments came from Thailand, followed by Vietnam, India, Pakistan and Myanmar.

Southeast Asia’s biggest economy planned to import an additional 1.5 million metric tons of rice in 2023, on top of a 2.3 million tons import quota issued earlier this year to top up government rice reserves to cool rising prices of the staple food.

Indonesia produced 31.54 million tons of rice in 2022.

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