Mt Sinabung eruption disrupts food supply in Batam

INDONESIA - Mount Sinabung has disrupted the supply of food commodities, in particular vegetables, from North Sumatra to Batam and several other areas in Riau Islands.

Bank Indonesia (BI) Riau Islands head Gusti Raizal Eka Putra said such a shortage of supply had led to a sharp increase in the price of food commodities, causing 0.16 per cent inflationary pressure in October and 7.62 per cent year-on-year inflation.

North Sumatra is a food producing area for Riau Islands.

"We predict inflation will be higher in November because of food supply disruptions in food producing areas," said Gusti on Wednesday.

Brastagi, an agricultural area in Tanah Karo regency in North Sumatra, has supplied various food commodities, such as red chili and vegetables, to Riau Islands.

In the last several weeks, the price of red chili in Batam has sharply increased to Rp 40,000 (S$4.40) per kilogram from Rp 18,000. A sharp rise in the price of red chili has been one contributor to the province's high inflationary pressures in October.

Riau Islands has also seen a critical shortage of vegetables in traditional markets. Several vendors said they now depended on vegetable supplies from areas outside North Sumatra, such as Java and Jambi.

Batam Industry and Trade head Amsakar Ahmad said around 20 per cent of food needs in Batam and its surrounding areas were from North Sumatra.

He said it was likely the sharp rise in the price of food commodities would be temporary.

Once the situation in the supplying areas returned to normal, prices would return to normal, Amsakar said.