WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Indonesia plans to export rice in 2020 instead of being a net importer, according to a Dec. 17 Global Agricultural Information Network report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In recent years the country has been an importer of rice due to expensive local supplies making it difficult to meet demand of the commodity.

Indonesia’s Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo was quoted by the local press stating Indonesia will aim to export 100,000 tonnes to 500,000 tonnes of rice in 2020.

“A net importer of rice in recent years, it remains unclear where and when exports would occur and how Indonesia’s expensive local rice would be able to compete with similar quality less-expensive rice from Thailand and Vietnam,” the USDA said. “From January to October 2019, Indonesia only exported 202 tonnes of rice. An industry source involved in exports of premium quality rice to the U.S., which accounted for 50% of Indonesia’s rice exports, advised difficulty in securing even 10 tonnes to 20 tonnes of rice per month.”

The report noted there is potential for the export of rice following Indonesia’s main harvest March — April as stocks are expected to increase from 4.64 million tonnes to 675 million tonnes.

However, the country’s rice consumption rate may impede the country’s export goal.

The USDA cited the National Statistics Agency (BPS), stating Indonesia’s total rice consumption is expected to reach 34.3 million tonnes in 2020. The additional surplus of 2.11 million tonnes added during the harvest would fall short on meeting one month of consumption during the second crop cycle off-season period, the USDA said.