Indonesia will have to import at least 600,000 tonnes of rice by the end of this year to ensure national food reserves, according to local newspapers.

President of the Indonesian National Logistics Agency (Bulog) Sutarto Alimoeso was quoted as saying that the Government’s policies and measures have tried to promote agricultural production towards its ambitious target of food self-sufficiency by 2014, but so far rice imports have been unavoidable.

He added the Bulog’s stockpile fell sharply because the Government gave 700,000 tonnes of rice to the poor after the fuel price increase on June 17.

Furthermore, agricultural production has been severely affected by extreme climate change and a poor irrigation system.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture forecasts the country’s rice output can exceed 69 million tonnes, a year-on-year increase of 0.31 percent.

The Indonesian Government in July 2012 granted quotas allowing the Bulog to import one million tonnes of rice. The agency imported 670,000 tonnes, with 600,000 tonnes sourced from Vietnam.

Indonesia and Vietnam signed a memorandum of understanding in September 2012, under which Vietnam will provide Indonesia with 1.5 million tonnes of rice each year by 2017.-VNA