Governments have come and gone but none has managed to lead Indonesia, which once prided itself as an agrarian nation, to self-sufficiency in food as it has always aspired. It was only in 1984 under then-president Soeharto that Indonesia made the dream come true before it slid back into the jaws of insufficiency. Presidential candidates Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Prabowo Subianto have both raised the contentious issue on their campaign trails. The Jakarta Post writers Safrin La Batu and Pandaya explore what stands in the way of the country’s effort to end its reliance on food imports.

by Safrin La Batu & Pandaya

Last month, Jokowi’s senior aides raised a ruckus — again. This time, it was about the importation of 2 million tons of rice. The hottest scene was a mud-slinging match between Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukito, who want-ed to keep the national rice supply at a safe level, and State Logistics Agency (Bulog) chief Budi Waseso, who opposed the policy because Bulog’s rice stock was...