Indonesia could double rice imports as election, El Niño loom
The U.S. Department of Agriculture predicts Indonesia will import 1.5 million tonnes of rice this year, while an official at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) put the figure at 500,000 tonnes.
Indonesia's government has cut its estimates for unmilled rice output to 73 million tonnes this year, compared to 71.29 million in 2013, but industry sources said this was still an ambitious prediction.
The nation was self-sufficient in rice in the early 1980s, but output gradually declined as farmland was used for housing as the population boomed.
Yudhoyono introduced a number of tough 2014 self-sufficiency targets in 2009 after food prices spiked, but government efforts have been hit by a series of corruption scandals, while expansion plans have often been blocked by red-tape.
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