Indonesia considers extending rice handout programme to year-end

Indonesia has been giving 10kg of rice monthly to more than 20 million low-income families since March 2023. - PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (Reuters): Indonesia may further extend its rice handout programme by six months until December despite easing prices, outgoing President Joko Widodo said on Monday.

Southeast Asia's biggest economy, Indonesia has been giving 10 kilograms of rice monthly to more than 20 million low-income families since March 2023 to help them cope with high prices of the staple as the El Nino weather pattern-fuelled drought hit output.

The programme, which started in March-June last year, was due to end in June after multiple extensions.

The outgoing president, popularly known as Jokowi, said the programme has been successful at curbing local prices of rice, a staple for most of Indonesia's 270 million population.

"All global food prices are rising. Some are rising very high, and ours are still low. We should be grateful that our increases are not drastic," he said in a statement.

The extension is subject to budget availability, he said without explaining the source of rice for the additional programme.

Bulog, Indonesia's food procurement firm, had bought 472,279 metric tons of rice from domestic harvests as of May 8, while stocks stood at 1.8 million tons, a company official told a weekly inflation meeting that was live streamed.

Indonesia has imported 1.2 million tons of rice so far this year of the allotted 3.6 million tons, the company said late last month.

Bulog has issued another international tender to buy about 300,000 metric tons of rice, European traders said on Monday.

Rice prices have eased as stocks improve in the harvest season, a statistics bureau official told the inflation meeting.

(Reporting by Bernadette Christina; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu) - Reuters

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Indonesia , To Continue , Programme , Handout , Rice , Monthly


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