Indonesian agriculture officials routinely inflate rice harvest data to present a rosy picture to the government and keep farm subsidies flowing, but their latest phoney numbers could lead to a severe shortage of the staple in coming months, officials say.
If the data had been correct, Indonesia would be awash with rice supplies and the country's president would have less to worry about. The number rigging, critics say, flies in the face of food self-sufficiency targets that Joko Widodo has been aggressively pursuing since taking office in 2014.
"These numbers are so exaggerated," said a senior government official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue. "We're scrambling right now to build stocks in case there's a failed harvest in February and March."
Another government official, who works on agriculture issues, confirmed that the numbers are rigged.