Gov't Provides Incentives to Nearly 2.5 Million Farmers to Maintain Rice Production
Jakarta. The government plans to provide incentives for 2.44 million farmers after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo ordered his ministers to direct the economic stimulus program to farmers to maintain domestic food production.
"The incentives will be given to 2.44 million farmers so they can begin the next planting season," Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said in Jakarta on Tuesday.
According to the minister, the government will provide a monthly stipend of Rp 600,000 ($38) for the next three months in the form of direct cash aid, or BLT.
In fact the assistance comprises Rp 300,000 in cash and Rp 300,000 in agricultural products such as seeds and fertilizers.
"The Agriculture Ministry will announce the procedure [to receive the incentives]," Airlangga said.
The minister also said the country has enough rice in stock for Idul Fitri despite the continuing pandemic.
"We expect a harvest of 5.6 million tons [of rice] in April. This is consistent with the trend in 2018 and 2019. The rice harvest usually occurs between March and April," he said.
The country has 6.3 million tons of rice in reserve at State Logistics Agency (Bulog) warehouses.
Bulog will send rice to regions where the rice stock is limited.
As of April 27, the average price nationally for medium quality rice is Rp 11,800 per kilogram. For premium quality rice it's Rp 12,750 per kilogram.
Airlangga said some regions in Indonesia have limited reserves of rice, but the government will continue to monitor rice stock and distribution to make sure they do not run out.
"The Trade Ministry and Bulog will carry out monitoring operations to make sure every region has enough food stock. As per the president's instructions, we will monitor demand for basic food supplies and rice availability in Bulog, rice mills, communities and regional areas," he said.
Last week, the government ordered Bulog to deliver an aid package of 450,000 tons of rice to several regions in coordination with the Social Affairs Ministry.
During a teleconference from Bogor Palace on Tuesday, President Jokowi said seven provinces currently have a rice stock deficit but did not mention their names.
Jokowi said as long as rice distribution continues uninterrupted, provinces with rice deficit can get extra supplies from surplus areas.
The president said large-scale social restrictions should not disrupt the food distribution between provinces and islands in the country.
The president said supplies of staple food in each region should be constantly monitored to find out if there's a surplus or deficit, or if production needs to be ramped up.
The government must also prepare for the possibility of a prolonged drought in 2020, even though according to the Meteorological, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG), Indonesia will not experience extreme weather conditions this year.