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Indonesia faces a number of challenges to its food security over the coming decades. Agriculture is a major, but diminishing, pillar of the Indonesian economy and Indonesia spends more public finances than most other middle-income countries to support it. Despite this, farm infrastructure is ageing and degraded, and many farmers struggle to afford inputs due to low agricultural incomes. Indonesia is also prone to natural hazards, some of which are projected to increase as climate change takes effect. Climate change is also predicted to reduce agricultural productivity through increased temperatures, sea level rise and delays to the onset of the wet season.

Poverty levels have fallen over the last 20 years, but many Indonesians remain at risk of falling into poverty. Indonesian food prices are significantly higher than in much of the rest of Asia, due to restrictions on imports, which effectively creates a tax on food products. Consequently, many Indonesians are unable to afford a nutritious diet. There is a programme designed to provide subsidised rice to the poor, but many eligible recipients only receive a fraction of the subsidy. Partly as a consequence of this, consumption of fruits, vegetables and many other nutritious foods is low. Indonesian diets have more in common with a low-income country than other middle-income countries, with an extreme dependence on a single staple (rice) and low consumption of meat and fats. As a result, micronutrient deficiencies, stunting and wasting are high. The number of obese and overweight Indonesians has increased over the last 20 years and continues to rise, leading to a double burden of malnutrition and increasingly high rates of non-communicable disease.

Key points:

  • Despite strong economic growth and poverty reduction, levels of food insecurity and poor nutrition are high in Indonesia
  • Agriculture is an important pillar of the Indonesian economy and employs nearly a third of Indonesians, but farmers struggle with poor infrastructure and low incomes. Climate change is projected to lower agricultural productivity.
  • While poverty levels have decreased, many Indonesians remain at risk of falling into poverty. A preoccupation with food sovereignty has made nutritious diets unaffordable for many poorer Indonesians.
  • Diets centred on rice and low in fruits and vegetables have led to high levels of malnutrition, stunting and wasting. The number of obese and overweight Indonesians is also rising, leading to high rates of non-communicable disease.
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