Sufficiency, self-reliance, accessibility, utilization and affordability are key principals in providing food security. Policy makers must focus on maintaining a balance in these principals. When demand is not met by supply, the shortfall can lead to unstable food accessibility. 

Self-sufficiency, in many countries, remains the key to continuously providing food security. However, in Indonesia, self-sufficiency has come under threat and the integral agricultural market is at risk. The livelihood of subsistence farmers is increasingly impacted by global issues such as climate change, international food price volatility, and the increasing demand for food from a growing population. The fluctuation and rise in prices of staple foods such as rice, garlic, and onions is leading Indonesia to cooperate with its neighbors to ensure the future of food security nationally and regionally. 

Currently, Indonesia’s food policy is based on the aim of self-sufficiency and production is sustained within the economy to such a level that it could eventually lead to a food crisis. While this encourages small-scale farming, it makes food availability uncertain for many of the nation’s poor and compromises a well-balanced diet. While recent changes in dietary patterns and private-sector investment in agriculture will allow for growth and diversification in agricultural production, it may not be enough. As the country of highest productivity and production of rice in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Indonesia could potentially generate earnings in the regional market. Subsequently, local markets would gain a boost from the benefits of an export-oriented economy. 

Since 1979, East Asian countries have integrated rice reserves to create a formal Strategic Plan of Action on Food Security in 2009 with the end goal being regional food security. While regional food security still has yet to be accomplished, many strides have been made in regional crop risk management, insurance schemes, strategies for regional transportation, and public-private partnerships. Indonesia holds the potential to strengthen self-sufficiency and national food security through aid to domestic competitiveness, systematic cash transfers, and cooperation with non-state stakeholders to minimize the adverse impacts of open food trade regimes. Implementation of these policies and principals would eventually lead to the accomplishment of national and regional food security for Indonesia and East Asia.

– Kira Maixner

Source: The Jakarta Globe
Photo: New Security Beat