Indonesia's 'Rice ATMs' Provide Staple amid Corona Crunch

Date: 2020.05.27

The global pandemic has left millions of Indonesians struggling to make ends meet. Now the authorities are rolling out "rice ATMs" in a bid to ensure greater access for those in need to the essential Asian staple.

This month Linda Syafri, a 28-year-old expectant mother was among the many who lined up in masks at a military base in Depok, on the outskirts of the capital Jakarta, for their 1.5 kilogram (3.3 lb) rice ration.

"I was laid off by my company last week and my husband was laid off too without severance pay," said Syafri. "Although it (the rice subsidy) is not that much, it is very helpful in this situation."

The rice dispensary, one of 10 in and around Jakarta, is part of a government initiative to assist those worst affected by the coronavirus outbreak, which has caused millions to lose their jobs in Southeast Asia's largest economy.

Stacked with kilos of good-quality rice and operated by magnetic cards, the tall automated teller machines look much like normal cashpoints, only that they pump out grain instead of banknotes.

Read more here.

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