Researcher highlights need to diversify national food system

Jakarta (ANTARA) – Head of the Research Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) Felippa Ann Amanta accentuated the importance of directing policies to optimize diversification of the national food system in order to boost the people’s nutrition.

“While domestic agriculture in Indonesia faces challenges in producing diversified food in sufficient quantities, imports are still limited. Moreover, choices and access to affordable, nutritious, and quality food are still limited for majority of the Indonesians,” Amanta noted in a written statement here on Saturday.

She remarked that transformation of the food system was paramount to improving the nutrition of the community. The transformation should also consider food diversity, quality, affordability, and the sustainability of agricultural production.

Despite significant progress in the agricultural sector, Amanta reminded that Indonesia still faced the triple burden of malnutrition, rising obesity, and high levels of micronutrient deficiencies caused by inaccessibility to a healthy diet.

Amanta reminded that food prices are still relatively high in Indonesia, and the average household spending on food constituted 56 percent of the total spending. Low-income households even spend 64 percent of their income on food, which is a high proportion.

“Indonesian people’s food consumption is still dominated by carbohydrates, and more and more ultra-processed foods are being produced and consumed. Consumption of fruit, vegetables, and animal source foods is low. This means that although people feel full, their optimal nutritional needs are not met,” Amanta stated.

Domestic food policies, including import restrictions, have made it difficult for many people to afford a healthy diet. The reduced purchasing power of the people due to the COVID-19 pandemic has further reduced their affordability for healthy food.

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Earlier, the Ministry of Agriculture had educated the public to diversify local food, including the consumption of taro beneng, which is an alternative food source and thrives as both wild and cultivated plants.

Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo, in a statement received on Monday (Mar 7), stated that Indonesia had abundant local food wealth.

“In Indonesia, all regions have local food. Hence, we invite people to take advantage of local food diversification to meet the food needs, including using taro beneng,” he remarked.

Limpo also said that his ministry is tasked with meeting the food needs of the entire community, and that food requirements can be met by maximizing local food diversification. 

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