ASEAN+3 Reserve Gets 14,000 Tons Of Rice From Indonesia

26 April, 2011 | Source: The Jakarta Post

Although still struggling to re-implement a rice self-sufficiency program, Indonesia will contribute 14,000 tons of rice to the ASEAN Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) to deal with sudden instabilities in supply and production.

Agriculture Minister Suswono said Monday that Indonesia was anticipating the signing of the pact this year between ASEAN members — Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Laos, Brunei, Cambodia and Myanmar — and the Plus Three nations of Japan, China and South Korea.

“The pact was originally to be signed at the previous AMAF [ASEAN Ministers on Agriculture and Forestry] meeting, but Singapore asked for a delay. Now it seems like the problems have been solved so I hope we can sign it at the next AMAF meeting,” Suswono told reporters after a meeting at the Office of the Coordinating Minister for the Economy in Jakarta.

The next AMAF meeting will be held in Cambodia in October.

“There will be a joint collection of rice reserves in an emergency condition for ASEAN+3 countries. Relatively, there have been no problems, we will just need to sign [the pact]. This will take place at the ASEAN+3 agriculture ministers meeting,” Suswono added.

The 13 countries agreed in principle last year to earmark a rice stock of 787,000 tons for the emergency reserve, with pledges of 87,000 tons from ASEAN member countries, 250,000 from Japan, 300,000
from China and 150,000 from South Korea. The earmarked rice will be kept in respective countries for use as Southeast Asia emergency reserves.

Suswono said the volume of emergency reserve had slid to 720,000 tons, with “Japan the biggest contributor providing 220,000 tons”. Indonesia initially pledged to contribute 25,000 tons to the emergency reserve.

Indonesia’s rice stocks are expected to increase to 2 million tons per year by an unidentified time frame, up from the current 1.5 million tons per year. Therefore, Indonesia’s 14,000-ton contribution in rice reserves will not affect the country’s rice stock, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said.

“In the context of increasing our food security, we will have to look at the big picture. What are ASEAN’s efforts in contributing to and anticipating higher food prices? The first initiative will be this rice reserve program,” he said Monday.

Rice is the main staple food of Indonesia, a domestic consumption-driven economy that used to be self-sufficient in rice. But recent climate change issues have forced a drop in Indonesia’s rice production, pushing the country to import rice from Thailand and Vietnam.

Indonesia, the ASEAN chair for 2011, has also proposed the idea of fund-pooling for food security programs in both regional and global forums, namely ASEAN meetings and the G20 major economies forums.

“We hope a joint investment on food stocks can be assessed. This issue will be discussed at the next ASEAN agriculture ministers meeting,” Suswono said.

Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo said the pooled funds might be used to avoid price speculations and for food-related research in a bid to ensure food sufficiency and stability.

 

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