Indonesia's food procurement company Bulog is optimistic rice prices will be under control ahead of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan that starts in the second week of March as harvests improve supplies, its chief executive said on Thursday.

Prices for rice, the staple for most of Indonesia's 270 million people, have soared more than 16% since last year as the El Nino weather phenomenon cut rainfall across large parts of Asia in 2023, reducing output and sparking food inflation pressure for some of the world's most price-sensitive consumers.

Rice harvests have started in some areas with supplies starting to flow into some of the main rice markets in the country, Bulog Chief executive Bayu Krisnamurthi said.

On top of the harvests, Bulog has secured commitments of 1.2 million metric tons of rice for imports, he added.

"I approached colleagues in Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, India, we made a commitment, although we do not immediately buy in the spot market, but we already have commitments for the upcoming months," he said.

Earlier this month, Indonesia added 1.6 million tons to its rice import quota, on top of 2 million tons allocated previously, although permits for the new quota are still being processed.

(Reporting by Bernadette Christina; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Christian Schmollinger)