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Jakarta Post

Tackling food security problem in Indonesia

  • Subejo and Dwiningtyas Padmaningrum

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Tue, November 26, 2013   /  10:55 am

Availability and access to food is a basic human right. The Food and Agriculture Organization has pledged in the Rome Declaration on World Food Security to achieve food security and halve the level of global hunger to 400 million by 2015.

In Indonesia'€™s case, the fundamental policies still seem to be unclear. The Global Food Security Index shows that by 2012 in terms of food security Indonesia ranks 65 out of 105 countries studied.

 According to agronomist Jhamtani Hira, the weakenesses of food security programs in Indonesia
are: too much focus on rice production but not on farmers'€™ incomes and the dominance role of the government that leaves little opportunity for people to develop food security initiatives based on local resources.

Food security has three pillars: availability, access and utilization of food. Experts also elaborate that food security systems and strategies can be developed into five interrelated subsystems namely production, process, distribution, access and consumption of food.

The paradigm shift toward the production and consumption of a variety of local food will reduce the reliance on one type of staple food, import dependence, increasing access to healthy food as well as
economic opportunities.

A food diversification program has been introduced by the government and is expected to encourage increasing the variety of food consumption patterns.

The Ministry of Agriculture reported in 2012 that rice consumption in Indonesia was still around 316 grams per capita per day, considerably larger than the target of 275 grams per capita per day.

The demand for rice is still very huge, amounting to 2.7 to 2.8 million tons per month. Meanwhile the consumption of tubers is still considerably low, only at 40 grams from the target of 100 grams per capita.

But rice production has been rather stagnant over the last 10 years. The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) reported that rice-harvesting areas increased from 11.53 million hectares in 2002 to 13.35 million ha in 2012, while rice production rose from 51.49 million tons (unhusked) in 2002 to 59.04 million tons in 2012.

Rice production is concentrated in a few provinces in Java, accounting for over 50 percent of national production. The other provinces that contribute above 5 percent to total production are South Sulawesi (7.1 percent), North Sumatra (5.4 percent) and South Sumatra (5.0 percent)

 In a macro perspective, as noted by the National Food Security Council ( 2010 ), the level of grain consumption tends to decrease (ranging from 0.45 per cent in the period 2005-2009), through a reduction in consumption of rice (0.67 percent per year) and maize (5.96 percent per year).

However, the reduction of rice consumption has caused new food problems, because this decrease caused wheat consumption to increase by 6.63 percent per year. The latest data shows that the import of wheat and wheat flour has reached about 7 million tons.

Development of food diversification can be interpreted as the presence of wide varieties of food at all times, which is an important strategy for food security.

Appropriate policy measures on food diversification should be introduced at any level ranging from the central government to village level.

The policies include systems of production, distribution, purchasing and marketing, protection and consumption of local food.

The advocacy communication strategies on food security and food diversification should be properly arranged with targets on related governmental agencies, political leaders, pressure groups, business organizations and social leaders at any level through interpersonal and media approaches.

The policy of one day no rice, non-rice dishes made for meetings and guest visits, development of various refined products made from local food such as the development of various modified cassava flour, full use of root and tuber crops in several regions of Indonesia could be an alternative strategy to reduce rice and wheat consumption.

The clear roadmap of research and action on the development of local food sources is badly needed. Local food development will lead to an increase in the variety of processed healthy food and their modifications, as well as attract young consumers and urban consumers.

In changing the behavior of local food consumption the schools have a strategic role in the provision of knowledge through curriculum support as well as behavioral models, for example: school regulations to endorse bringing lunch meals from home, the availability of a variety snacks made from local food commodities in school cafeterias and also the use of school yards or gardens for experimental local food cultivation.

The nurture of awareness on food diversification can be helped by the utilization of various groups both formal and non-formal institutions, such as healthcare institutions, research, religious groups, farmer groups, women'€™s groups and youth groups.

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Development of food diversification can be interpreted as the presence of wide varieties of food at all times.

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Subejo lectures and Dwiningtyas Padmaningrum studies at extension and development communication, Graduate School Program at Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta.