Indonesia: The tragicomedy of a food-rich country

They live in a world of plenty, but one in seven will go hungry today

Enough crops can be grown to feed the planet. But spiralling grain prices, stock market speculation, climate change and corrupt and failing governments have left almost a billion people facing starvation.

Agriculture, platinum, fisheries, forestry, animal husbandry and mining are plentiful in Indonesia

Amid the democratic euphoria of the last few years, the Indonesian public has been too busy with issues of corruption and terrorism. On the sidelines, highly important food issues are often forgotten. According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), from January to June 2011, Indonesia imported as much as 11.33 million tons of food, equivalent to US$5.36 billion. This includes 28 types of food, from rice to chili.

Notwithstanding the excessive praise given to Indonesia as a food rich country, these facts should wake us out of our daydream. There has to be something wrong with the country’s behavior and policies regarding food.

After a relatively stable 25 years, global food commodities started to fluctuate in 2004-2005, before reaching their peak in 2008. The cost of rice in 2011 rose threefold, while it was twofold for wheat. Like it or not, we have entered a period where we are awfully prone to food price instability.

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Categories: Asia, Indonesia

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