Hungry neighbours? Indonesia’s food strategy and water security future

Rural conditions Water Indonesia


Through a combination of domestic agricultural production and food imports, Indonesia currently maintains food supply levels adequate to feed its population. Due to inefficiencies in distribution systems and persistent poverty a low level of food insecurity exists in the country, particularly amongst rural populations. In response to concerns about supply disruptions, Indonesia implemented a food self-sufficiency policy in October 2012, aiming to meet 90 per cent of the country’s food needs from domestic supply by 2014. The ambitious plan is an exercise in economic nationalism rather than a concerted effort to ensure the accessibility, affordability and availability of food supplies in the long term. Current production shortfalls, inadequate investment in agricultural development, inflation, a lack of comparative advantage and widespread corruption make it unlikely that Indonesia will achieve self-sufficiency in the allotted timeframe. Water security is a significant national challenge. Indonesia receives high levels of rainfall, however poor water management and aged and inefficient infrastructure mean that only half of the population have access to an improved water source. Major government funding of infrastructure development is required for Indonesia to secure sustainable water supply for its population.

Key points

  • Indonesia currently has a low level of food insecurity. Food supplies are theoretically adequate to feed the population, however inefficiencies in distribution systems across the archipelago restrict access to food products at prices affordable for the nation’s poor.
  • In October 2012, the Indonesian government instituted a 90 per cent self-sufficiency target as part of new National Food Laws to reduce Indonesia’s reliance on food imports.
  • The self-sufficiency strategy is at odds with the goal of improving long-term food security. The plan faces a range of challenges, including inflationary pressure, corruption and a lack of comparative advantage in some areas of agricultural production.
  • Despite abundant supplies, a large portion of Indonesia’s population lacks access to reliable water sources. Major infrastructure development is needed to ensure improved water security to 2025.
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