Semarang, C. Java, July 18 (ANTARA) - The government should not import rice in the near future because national rice production is still sufficient to meet domestic needs, an Indonesian Farmers and Fishermen's Association spokesman said.

"Demand for basic necessities ahead of the holy month of Ramadhan including rice is certainly rising, but it doesn't mean (the country) should import rice for price stabilization," Secretary-General of the Indonesian Farmers and Fishermen's Welfare Association Executive Board, Riyono said here on Monday.

National production of dry milled unhulled rice
was now around 65 million tons, equivalent to 43 million tons of rice, Riyono said, quoting the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) data on the national food reserves as per March 1,2011 and the latest data of the Agriculture Ministry until June 2011.

Meanwhile, the national food need for 2011 was approximately 38 million tons of rice, so there was still a surplus of 4.9 million tons.

"Considering the existing supplying capability, we call on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cancel the plan of the logistics agency Bulog and trade ministry to import rice, because the national food stocks are sufficient," Riyono said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's statement saying that his cabinet members should be able to maintain the price stability of the basic commodities such as rice, eggs and meat, according to him, should not be construed by the ministers as a signal to import rice to stabilize its price.

Because on the basis of BPS data, it was quite clear that throughout this year Indonesia would not experience a rice production shortfall but a surplus, he said.

He worried that rice imports would hit the farmers after they had enjoyed a slight increase in the price of dry milled unhulled rice.

"The presidential instruction is actually clear to Bulog and trade ministry. Thus, the solution is not to import rice, but to optimize absorption of domestic unhulled rice. So don't buy foreign farmers' rice," Riyono said.

"We hope that the President still listens to the voice of 25 million families of farmers who have struggled to make the President awarded by the World Food Organization (FAO) because Indonesia was self-sufficient in rice in 2008," the spokesman added.
( Achmad Zaenal)