RI`s rice price 30 pct higher than other countries`

Jakarta (Antara News) - Indonesia`s rice price is 30 percent higher than the world market price making it uncompetitive in international trading, State Logistics Agency (Bulog) Chief Mustafa Abubakar said.

"It will be difficult for us to export rice. Therefore, Indonesia`s rice price should be lowered to a level close to the international price," Mustafa said here Tuesday.

Currently, the world rice price ranged between Rp3,000 and Rp3,500 per kg. The price of Vietnamese rice stood at Rp3,200 per kg and that of Thai rice at Rp3,400 to Rp3,500 per kg.

Meanwhle, the price of Indonesian rice was Rp4,000 to Rp5,000 per kg, and tending to rise further so that Indonesia would lose the competition with other producing countries, he said.

In addition, Mustafa said, the high price in the domestic market would encourage illegal imports and smuggling.

Mustafa said to win the competition in the international rice market, Indonesia needed to increase its rice production through intensification and extensification programs.

He expressed optimism that Indonesia could attain rice self-sufficiency in 2009 if supported by a better post-harvest process.

"Low quality in the post-harvest process has caused a 20.4 percent loss in production," he added.

Improvement of the quality of post-harvest processes would reduce losses by 2.5 percent which was equivalent to an increase of 600,000 tons in national rice production which currently stood at 55 million tons of unhusked rice.

An increase in productivity from 4 tons to 5 tons per hectare would be equivalent to an increase in production by 1.6 million tons.

Indonesia could become a rice supplier in ASEAN, especially to Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, and Singapore (which currently meet their need for rice with imports from Vietnam) if its price could be lowered to below the international market price, Mustafa said.(*)
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