The Indonesian Government has put aside 2 trillion rupiah (173.18 million USD) to ensure food safety, as part of efforts to prepare for the potential recurrence of weather phenomenon El Nino that is expected to hit the country in June or July.

Of the total, a bout 1 trillion rupiah will be used to boost rice stockpiles at state-owned logistics firm Bulog from 400,000 tonnes to 1.7 million tonnes, Coordinating Economic Minister of Indonesia Hatta Rajasa said.

The Indonesian government has recently allowed Bulog to import 328,000 tonnes of white sugar for household consumption to meet a shortage of 340,000 tonnes, according to Indonesian Agriculture Minister Suswono.

Bulog will increase stockpiles of sugar, palm oil and cocoa, he said, adding that the funds will also be used to mitigate the impact of worsening droughts.

The country’s paddy rice output has been lowered from 76 million tonnes to 73 million tonnes, while soybean output has been cut from 1.5 million tonnes to 1.2 million tonnes, said Suswono.

David Dawe, a Bangkok-based senior economist at the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), said that Indonesia and the Philippines might be the countries most affected by El Nino. According to a recent report by the Indonesian Statistics Department, the country’s GDP in the first quarter of this year rose 5.21 percent year on year. This is the lowest growth since the third quarter of 2009, it added.-VNA