Minister of Agriculture Ensures Sufficient Rice Stock Amid Peak El Nino Threat

Rice, One of the Poverty Contributing Commodities in Indonesia

Rice, being the staple food for a significant majority of the Indonesian population, has raised concerns regarding the availability of its essential raw material, rice grains, due to the looming threat of El Nino.

In response to these concerns, the Minister of Agriculture, Syahrul Yasin Limpo, has taken the initiative to reassure the nation that the stock of rice in Indonesia is currently in a safe and secure category, capable of withstanding the anticipated peak of the El Nino phenomenon, which is predicted to occur between the months of August and September 2023.

The minister’s statement comes after an important limited meeting, referred to as ratas, which aimed to discuss and strategize the necessary measures to mitigate the potential impacts of El Nino. President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and several ministers from the Indonesia Maju Cabinet participated in this meeting held at the prestigious Merdeka Palace on Tuesday, 18th July 2023.

“Rest assured, our rice stock is in a secure state. Up until July, we have successfully harvested rice from over 800,000 hectares of land, and we anticipate further harvests from over 800,000 hectares in August. Therefore, our rice surplus stands at an impressive figure of over 2 million hectares,” stated Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo confidently during a media interaction at the Presidential Palace complex on Tuesday, 18th July 2023.

However, while emphasizing the adequacy of rice supplies, the Vice Chairman of the NasDem Party’s Center for Experts humbly acknowledged that President Jokowi cautioned against complacency. Despite the current safe reserves, the potential impact of El Nino cannot be underestimated or approached with a sense of nonchalance.

“The President firmly emphasized that we must not merely rely on calculations and assume that we are adequately prepared for the threat posed by El Nino. Instead, we should optimize all available measures and resources to ensure our readiness,” he further explained, underscoring the need for proactive approaches and effective contingency plans.

Regarding other agricultural commodities, such as chicken and eggs, Minister Syahrul also assured the public that their availability remains stable and secure. However, he also acknowledged the challenges posed by potential price fluctuations, as these dynamics are influenced by various factors within the market.

“During my recent visits to six provinces, I observed that our chicken stocks stand at approximately 3.7 million, and our consumption rate is around 3.6 million, indicating a comfortable balance. The situation is similar for eggs. Hence, our food supply is, in fact, secure. However, we must address any price fluctuations promptly and responsibly.

President Jokowi has urged all ministries to collaborate in order to achieve price stabilization,” Minister Syahrul elucidated, emphasizing the importance of monitoring and regulating prices to ensure affordability and accessibility for all.

Given the upcoming El Nino phenomenon, Minister Syahrul expressed his belief that all stakeholders should refrain from excessive pessimism. He highlighted the government’s efforts in coordinating and implementing various precautionary measures since the early months of the year, starting from February through April, and reiterated the commitment to reinforce these measures continuously.

“While initial predictions indicated potential drought conditions, our observations reveal an abundance of water in regions such as Papua, Sulawesi, Central Java, West Java, and South Sumatra. Therefore, we must avoid undue pessimism and consider the possibility that this El Nino might become a catalyst for growth and resilience,” concluded Minister Syahrul, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a balanced perspective and embracing the potential opportunities amidst challenges.