Indonesia’s state buyer Bulog must prepare to import 500,000 tonnes of rice, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Rusman Heriawan said on June 24, a move to accommodate a surge in demand linked to the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan starting the next two days.

It is also meant to stabilise food prices in face of El Nino weather pattern which will cause widespread draught.

According to him, Indonesia may more than double its rice imports up to 1.5 million tonnes this year.

The government plans to decide on rice import quota to Bulog next week, after considering domestic output and supply.

Indonesia and the Philippines, which typically buy rice from Thailand and Vietnam, are among the Asian countries facing the gravest threat from El Nino.-VNA