Thu, 25 Aug 1994

Rice market operation in city to be continued amid objections

JAKARTA (JP): The Jakarta chapter of the Logistics Agency will continue to deliver rice in city markets in an effort to prevent another price speculation as in July.

The chief of the agencies local chapter, Arifin Hidayat, told newsmen on Tuesday that the operation will go on despite strong objections voiced by many sellers in some wholesale markets.

Until now, the agency's operation has supplied over 9,000 tons of rice in Jakarta to stabilize the rice price. The long drought has been blamed for the price increase.

In July Governor Surjadi Soedirdja issued an order to the agency to take necessary measures to halt the escalating prices of staple foods, especially rice, in the city markets.

The director general of food crops and horticulture of the Ministry of Agriculture, Amrin Kahar, told a press conference Tuesday that the current drought had caused the failure of 111,000 hectares, out of the total area of 441,000 hectares of rice fields affected by the drought.

Amrin said that this year's production will likely decrease to 46.2 million tons of unhusked rice from 48.1 million tons last year.

However, Antara news agency reported that a wholesale market seller at Cipinang complained that the agency's market operation has made rice sales sluggish.

The sellers said that the agency had oversupplied the market with rice and this compelled many sellers to pile up their unsold rice.

The market operation has managed to decrease the rice price in Jakarta, with the decrease from Rp 685 (32 U.S. cents) to Rp 675 per kilo gram in July, and from Rp 675 to Rp 665 per kilo gram this month.

The agency's problems seem to be more serious as Arifin found out that the rice types it delivered does not sell well here due to its smell.

"Even a modest food stall would not use the agency's rice," he said.

He admitted that the agency's rice has a different aroma but it is still good quality.

Arifin refused to say when the market operation will end in Jakarta but he said that rice prices here have been stabilized.

"Rice supplies from the producing provinces are coming and there is no farmer who is brave enough to pile up their stock to speculate on the price," he said. (03)