Indonesia considers rice import amid El Nino

Jakarta, Oct 13 (IANS) The Indonesian government has been in talks with Vietnam and Thailand on the possibility of importing rice in an effort to counter the impact of El Nino, a senior official said on Tuesday.

“We have been in talks with Vietnam and Thailand,” Indonesian Economic Chief Minister Darmin Nasution said.

A final decision over the rice shipment will be made at the beginning of the next month, he said.

Moderate impact of El Nino has hit Indonesia since August and may end in December with the peak in September, Xinhua news agency reported.

El Nino has triggered drought and prolonged harvest as well as disturbed cultivation in paddy rice fields in Indonesia.

Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla said the country’s rice output may not be sufficient for the compliance of the demand of most of the country’s 250 million populations.

The Indonesian government has created artificial rains and distributed hundreds of pumps to water down some areas which have suffered from drought.

The prolonged dry season has caused lack of water over 200,000 hectares of rice fields across the country of which 30,000 hectares has failed in harvest.

In 1998, El Nino hit Indonesia with severe impact, pushing the government to import five million tonnes of food.

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