Image source: https://image.slidesharecdn.com/foodproblemsl01-141024094546-conversion-gate01/95/food-problems-around-the-world-3-638.jpg?cb=1414144054
One of the achievements of the Jokowi-JK government that should be appreciated during the last three years is the success in boosting the production of food crops, especially rice, which leads to self-sufficiency.
The Ministry of Agriculture noted that national rice production increased significantly from 70.85 million tons of dried unhulled rice (GKG) in 2014 to reach 79.14 million tons of GKG in 2016. This year, national rice production is estimated to even reach 80 million tons of GKG .
It is not surprising that Bulog no longer imports rice this year and only relies on domestic production to meet national rice reserves.
Data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) also shows that rice import realization during January-September 2017 is only about 200 thousand tons, much lower compared to last year's import realization of 1.28 million tons. Rice imports of 200 thousand tons are premium rice and specialty rice that is not produced domestically.
Unfortunately, despite these impressive achievements, Indonesia is still faced with the problem of hunger which is arguably quite serious. This was revealed in a publication titled "2017 Global Hunger Index: the Inequalities of Hunger" released by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in October.
In this publication it is mentioned that the score of Indonesia's famine index is 22. This score puts Indonesia at the rank of 72 out of 119 countries (excluding the developed countries). In the ASEAN region, Indonesia's achievements are even below Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Based on the IFPRI categorization, the extent of hunger in Indonesia is included on a serious scale. That means, amid the government's success in boosting national rice production, hunger is still a daily phenomenon faced by some of Indonesia's population.
The IFPRI report also shows that Indonesia's performance in reducing hunger is not satisfactory. In fact, Indonesia is in a group of countries with relatively low levels of hunger since 2000 with India, Iraq, Pakistan and some countries in Africa.
The famine index calculated by IFPRI is built on four indicators. The four indicators include the percentage of undernourished / undernourishment, the percentage of underweight children with child wasting representing acute malnutrition, the percentage of children under five with stunting representing chronic malnutrition, and mortality rate that reflects the combination of constraints in nutritional fulfillment and environmental factors that do not support child growth.
Based on data compiled by IFPRI, eight out of every hundred Indonesians are categorized as malnourished (insufficient caloric intake). Meanwhile, about 14 percent of children under five in Indonesia suffer from acute malnutrition. The under-five mortality rate is also quite high, reaching 2.7 percent by 2015.Of the four indicators used by IFPRI in the calculation of the famine index, Indonesia is very bad in terms of the prevalence of short toddlers. How not, about 36 out of every 100 toddlers in Indonesia stunted dwarf which is a manifestation of chronic malnutrition.
Unfortunately, chronic malnutrition has a permanent effect. That means, toddlers who suffer from chronic malnutrition will grow into a generation with low levels of capability, especially in terms of health and cognitive abilities. This condition resulted in them not being able to contribute maximally to the progress of society due to low competitiveness.
While it is known together that Indonesia is currently enjoying demographic bonuses that are marked by the composition of the population dominated by productive age groups (between 15 to 64 years). In the next twenty years, toddlers who are currently chronically malnourished will certainly be part of this productive age group.
The demographic bonus, projected to last until 2030, is an important capital for Indonesia in boosting national economic growth through the contribution of productive age groups in the labor market and domestic consumption. Thus, Indonesia can repeat the success stories of Japan, China, and South Korea that have successfully utilized the momentum of demographic bonuses to spur economic growth.
However, it should be noted that this can only be optimal if the productive age group, which is expected to be a motor of economic growth, has a qualified and competitive capability (education and health).
Therefore, this IFPRI report should be a serious concern and government evaluation material. We should not only focus on increasing food production. In addition to pursuing self-sufficiency, the government must also ensure that every citizen can meet his food needs well.
In this regard, the assurance that every resident, especially the poor, have access to cheap, sufficient, and healthy food should be a priority. (*)