Indonesia Now Exporting Organic Rice to U.S.

Photo by Ragesh Vasudevan
Photo by Ragesh Vasudevan

Indonesia on Thursday carried out its maiden rice export comprising about 18 tons of organic rice to the United States in a bid to enhance this world largest archipelagic country`s added value as a rice producer.

“Today (Thursday) is the historic day for Indonesia, as this is the maiden export of organic rice to a foreign country,” Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said when launching the export of organic rice in Tasikmalaya, West Java, on Thursday.

“I am really impressed with the reality we are facing now as Indonesia which in the past few years still imported rice from Vietnam and Thailand is now able to export rice to a foreign country,” he said.

The maiden export was exactly proof of Indonesia`s ability to achieve its targeted self-reliance in rice as a staple food.

Indonesia would not be able to export rice,if the country itself is not yet self-reliant. “But because of a surplus in the production of rice this year, eventually the export of organic rice could run as expected, thus placing it as an valuable event in the history of this largest archipelagic country,” the minister said.

Hopefully, after this maiden export to the US, Indonesia will reportedly export organic rice to Malaysia and some other countries.

According to him, the export of organic rice should go through certification process as a prerequisite. “In fact, our farmers are able to comply with the requirements in the standard quality of the needed rice.” However, he added, the government would continue to encourage the export of organic rice, as it might contribute high added value to the country.

Earlier, Deputy Coordinating Minister for Food and Marine Affairs Bayu Krisnamurthi said the export rice to some countries would not disrupt domestic food stability, as the volume of rice to be exported was small and restricted to high quality rice only.

“In the event that rice to be exported for example is only 100,000 tons of super quality, while the total production of the country?s unhusked rice may reach over 63 million tons. It is just a very small portion of the country`s rice supply for exports,” he said.

A prediction on a decline in domestic rice supply if compared to last year`s total production, according to him, was only linked to uncertain harvests and investment problem in agriculture sector in the future.

In the meantime, head of the central bureau of statistics (BPS) Rusman Heriawan said that the production of rice in 2009 was predicted to be slightly bigger than that in 2008 and hence Indonesia will remain self-sufficient in rice this year.

This Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) even predicted that Indonesia`s unhulled rice production this year would reach 60.93 million tons.

“Our estimate on the country`s unhusked rice production this year is about 60.93 million tons,” Rusman Heriawan said earlier this week.

He said compared with last year, production this year would increase by 1.13 percent or 0.68 million tons. “Therefore, the government`s plan to export rice is still feasible,” he added.

Heriawan said increases in the country`s rice production would take place in several provinces, including in West Java, West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Central Java, North Sumatra and Riau.

BPS had also put the provisional figure for the country`s rice production in 2008 at 60.25 million tons or an increase of about 5.41 percent from the previous year.

The increase in rice production was made possible due to an increase in the total area of rice fields harvested by 1.33 percent to 161,520 hectares. This increased production by 190 kg per hectare or about 4.04 percent.

In the meantime, Mustafa Abubakar, the Director of the National Logistics Agency, earlier said after a price production surplus of over 2.7 million tons 2008, Indonesia this year would start exporting super quality rice to the US, Malaysia, Japan, Brunei Darussalam, and Hong Kong.

At the beginning, Indonesia planned to export 100,000 tons of super rice. But in reality, it could not be realized as expected. Nevertheless, the 18 ton export to the US is part of the planned 100 tons of super quality rice.

“As a first step, we concentrate more on exporting super quality rice and then the medium rice if the national target to produce 40 million tons of hulled rice or 63 million tons of unhusked rice can be achieved in 2009,” he said.

If the national target to produce 40 million tons of rice in 2009 can be achieved, there will be an overproduction of 3 to 4 million tons. “If possible, we can export super and medium rice at least 3 million tons to Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, East Timor,” he said.

Rice can be classified into super quality rice, if broken rice reaches 0 to 5 percent. It can be either Cianjur, Pandan Wangi, Padi Mulia or aromatic rice. In the meantime, broken medium rice reached five to ten percent.

In Indonesia, rice plays an important role because 97 percent of its population consumed rice as it is indicated in the ratio of rice consumed by an individual in this country.

An Indonesian consumes 139 kilograms of rice per year, a Malaysian only 83 kg per year and a Japanese 50 kg per year.

The price of super quality rice is about USD1 to USD2 per kg or around US0 per metric ton. If the export could reach one million tons this year, Indonesia will earn USD400 million from the export of rice, Abubakar said.(PNA/Antara)

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