Indonesia is moving towards being self-sufficient in rice production, the country’s rice stocks stood at 1.98 million tonnes last month, up from 1.03 million tonnes in the same month last year. Rice stocks jumped following better weather which would curb rice imports at least until the end of the year. Usually the El Nino weather system brings drought to Indonesia which prompts the farmer to cut rice production. The government would give more incentives to farmers to meet the target of achieving rice self-sufficiency by next year. Indonesia is the world’s third- largest rice producer and it used to be self-sufficient in rice production. But a mix of bad weather, weak regulations, poor maintenance and investment in infrastructure for growing rice has hit production in the rapidly growing nation.
Indonesia is building 49 dams and thousands of small reservoirs to improve water supplies for crops. Rice is a politically sensitive commodity in Indonesia because it is the main staple for 250 million people and the main crop for millions of farmers. The government is revamping regulations and policies regarding the agriculture that impeded production of rice. Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman said, “We are improving all regulations, which are seen to be hindering the pace towards achieving self-sufficiency in food production.” He said further that Indonesia imported 1.9 million tonnes of rice over the past two years. More transparent procurement of fertilisers and planting of higher-yielding rice varieties are also measures taken to boost production. Moreover Philippines, which is one of the world’s largest rice importer, has no urgent need to import more rice, despite concerns about a shortage because of typhoons last month. This despite the estimates that Philippines this year’s paddy rice output would be 1.3 per cent lower than last year’s.