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7 - COVID-19, Food Security and Trade: The case of Indonesia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 October 2021

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Summary

Abstract

Food security has long been a contentious issue in Indonesia. As the country has graduated into the upper middle income group it still has to deal with ensuring people's access to food. The self-sufficiency ambition exacerbates this situation, as policies taken are often protectionist in nature, resulting in high domestic prices and thus hurting the poor, whose access to affordable food deteriorates. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic may further amplify food insecurity, leading to chronic hunger and lasting developmental challenges. We discuss the impact of the pandemic on Indonesia's food security by examining the global and regional food trade along with Indonesia's domestic food policies. We argue that the COVID-19 pandemic exposes the vulnerability in Indonesia's food systems, especially in terms of declining production trends, inadequate distribution capacity and trade limitations. Needed reforms include inviting more investment, supporting diversification of food supply, easing food trade flows and working with other countries to ensure regional food security.

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic is directly affecting food supply and demand globally, raising concerns over a potential food crisis on top of the existing health crisis. Mobility restrictions required to contain the spread of the virus disrupt the increasingly complex and interconnected food supply chain, from food production through processing, distribution and consumption, both domestically and globally. The disruption may result in food shortages, price spikes or price volatility that harms the livelihoods of people working in the supply chain and threatens food security, especially for the vulnerable poor. A joint report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), United Nations International Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that, in 2019, 690 million people or 9 per cent of the world's population went hungry, and the COVID-19 pandemic may push another 83 million to 132 million people into chronic hunger (FAO et al. 2020).

Food insecurity risks during and after the pandemic will hit hard in Indonesia where, even before the pandemic, 9 per cent of the population or more than 22 million people were undernourished between 2017 and 2019.

Type
Chapter
Information
Economic Dimensions of Covid-19 in Indonesia
Responding to the Crisis
, pp. 114 - 136
Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
Print publication year: 2021

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