Sunday, April 26, 2009

Indonesia-Vietnam rice deal

JAKARTA - INDONESIA has an option to buy about 1 million tonnes of rice from Vietnam in the next three years if it needs to build up rice stocks and ensure domestic food security, Trade Minister Mari Pangestu said on Sunday.

'We don't have to import if it's not needed,' Mr Pangestu told reporters.

'The government's priority is to raise productivity and revitalise the agricultural sector,' she said, adding that the agreement would provide insurance for Indonesia in case it was not able to meet demand for rice, a staple food, because of natural disasters or other reasons.

Indonesia produced a rice surplus of 1.6 million tonnes in 2008 thanks to bumper harvests. It was the first time in more than two decades that the country was self-sufficient for rice.

Indonesia's statistics bureau has projected 2009 unmilled rice output to rise 1.13 percent to 60.93 million tonnes, or the equivalent of around 38 million tonnes of milled rice.

The figure is below an earlier agriculture ministry forecast of 63.5 million tonnes. -- REUTERS

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