Food for all people at all times

Freddy Pattiselanno (Laboratorium Produksi Ternak  FPPK Universitas Negeri Papua Manokwari)


There are two critical global problems currently considered by the international community: the rapid escalating of climate change and the ongoing loss of biodiversity.  In agriculture sector, the impact of climate change has negative effects on farmers. Climate alteration may change a season pattern that affect planting seasons and further impact on harvest rates. In the end, the change in climate, in fact, may directly affect our food security.

Other risks may arise because of the changing dynamics of disease vectors, including the seasonality and incidence of various food-related infections; a reduction in crop yields; an increase in plant and livestock pests and pathogens. Therefore, we should aware about our future as Lobell et al (2008) predicts Southeast Asia as one among 12 regions that potentially suffered from food insecurity.

As agricultural based nation, the contribution of agriculture products is very considerable in terms of food security in Indonesia.  However, in reality, agriculture productions not only provide food for people, but it is now competing with other sectors to secure Indonesia’s energy resource.  Serious efforts to promote biofuel production has driven Indonesia government policy through Presidential Regulation no. 5/2006 on National Energy Policy stated, among other provisions, that biofuel utilization would be developed to contribute at least 5% to the national energy mix by 2025. This triggers the promotion of oil palm plantations to become a potential industry sector with the current CPO production about 20 million tons per year.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Indonesia is now home to 237.6 million people. Within the next five years, it estimates that Indonesia’s population will grow to 250 million. Therefore, if the current agricultural system is to provide the present and the future Indonesia’s population with enough food, we should think twice in using agriculture products for biodiesel energy though it is a potential industry sector in Indonesia. The use of present production of edible crops for biodiesel may threaten food security for several reasons. For instance, potential arable land will be converted into oil palm plantations, and secondly, the production will be used for energy source. At this point, any potential increase of crop availability should be reserved for the anticipated increase of Indonesia’s human population in the year come. With a growing global population, in the competition between fuel and food, food production must be a priority.

In the Global Food Futures Forum in Brisbane, on September 2010, Agri-food expert and Head of the School of Social Science at The University of Queensland, Australia, Professor Geoffrey Lawrence said food prices will skyrocket by about 50% over the next decade.  He took into account the United Nation’s predicted global population increase from 6.8 billion in 2010 to nine billion by 2050, and food may be the most valuable commodity in the years to come.  The increase in food costs will put food security at the top of national and international political agendas.  Perhaps even more alarming is that a 2009 report to the UN’s Economic and Social Council said population growth is expected to rise in the “least developed countries” that are even now struggling to feed their population, because 75 percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas in developing countries, and mostly depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.  Currently, about 1 billion people worldwide are chronically undernourished and for them food security is still far away.

A global food crisis in 2008, left a night mare, and it was so ridiculous because more than a billion people struggled without enough food.  Food shortage in Yahukimo, Papua in 2006, evidence how food insecurity has threaten a nation that has given gold medal in producing self sufficiency rice for food by the Food and Agriculture Organization in 1986.   With the prediction of human population increase, we may see that population growth is one of some factors that affects an increase demand for food near in the future.

Livestock production is expecting to solve a problem, in particular for animal protein sources. In 2005, beef production was 463.800 ton with a total beef cattle population 10.4 millions (Livestock Statistic, 2006). Indonesia is still importing beef meat 3,500 tonnes per year and cow calves 350,000 per year.  A strategy developed by the Agriculture Ministry to reach self sufficient production (swasembada) of beef is through increasing a number of cattle populations by 1.5 to 2 millions.  However, a recent report from the United Nations concludes that raising animals for food generate more greenhouse gases (GHG) and livestock is the second highest contributor to atmosphere-altering gasses.  Nearly one-fifth of all greenhouse gas is generated by livestock production more than transportation.  For that reason we are in dilemma, on the one hand we need to increase our beef cattle population to meet the need for animal protein consumption that far behind our neighboring countries like Malaysia and Philippines, but on the other hand, we face the issue of greenhouse gases.

The presence of genetically modified (GM) food is an alternative way to solve food security problems.  Advances in technologies produce amazing things of GM food (fruits and vegetables) from resistance to pest to nutritional values, but the potential risks to health and land development are questionable.

The target to increase food security in Indonesia could be synergized with other programs. The actively involvement of Indonesia in achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), should consider the objective of Indonesia’s MDGs is to synchronize state policies with sustainable development.

In general, there should be an integration program in access to food, land, credit, education, health and nutrition training and decision making in order to make effective use of technology in agricultural production and food preparation.  Increasing the amount of food available is necessary to feed the growing population.  While genetically modified seeds are being hailed as a means of improving crop outputs, there are also concerns about the ownership of seeds, adequate compensation for traditional knowledge and possible side effects.

As food production increase, greater availability of food and economic growth will provide income and access to more and varied foods as well as cash for use in other areas of the economy, such as small enterprise and manufacturing, which in turn helps reduce poverty.  While there are sufficient resources in the world to provide food security for all, it is important to ensure that the policy is to support a fair share and distribution of food for all people, especially the poor.

Lastly, food sourced locally is more important in order to minimize the transportation cost and dependency on non-local food sources. Therefore, develop a specific local food like corn in Gorontalo, sago and tuber crops in Maluku and Papua, is currently urgent to address the long-term available of local potential food that can be accessed physically and economically for all people, at all times.


Note: pictures are taken from websites


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