Mr. Anton asked one question that need to be rethought: do you think Indonesian is an agricultural country? How could you say “yes”? How could agricultural country lack of food? The fact is Indonesia has the smallest ratio of the land and population. In 1998, only 17% of the total land is agricultural land. This number is low compared to India. At the same year, 57% of the total land in India is agricultural land. The Indonesian farmers don’t have enough land to cultivate land and other feedstock. That is one of the reasons why our farmers are poor.
In addition to the land availability problem, another problem comes up related to how we can fulfill our food necessary. The amount of rice needed in this year may be different from the amount of rice needed last year and next year. However there is a trend that the amount of rice needed tends to increase each year. Mr. Anton said that rice production must increase at least 1.4% because population increases 1.4% annually. The problem is how we can fulfill our food necessary which tends to increase while the land availability tends to decrease?
The rate of rice production in 2004 was about 3%. The rate decreased below 1% during 2005-2006. From 2007 to 2009, the production rate increased from about 4% to 7%. In 2008, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Indonesia managed to regain self-sufficiency in rice and this was the first time since the New Order era that the national rice production surpassed the country’s rice consumption. However in the end of 2010, Indonesia imported rice massively due to extreme weather.
Rice import is not feasible to fulfill rice necessary in Indonesia since it has a lot of impacts. Rice import may give negative impact to the farmers. Imported rice usually have low price. Therefore it pressed the selling price of the total rice, especially during harvesting season. Thus, it had caused to the decreasing of the farmer’s revenue and income. If the rice import is extended year by year, it might have a greater impact. Poverty in rice producer villages would increase as the declining of areas harvested. It was not easy for farmers to find alternative jobs in villages. This situation may lead to a high urbanization. It also would not e easy to find a job in the cities as the unemployment rate was recorded high.
Mr. Anton offered five strategies that can be applied to improve food self-sufficiency in Indonesia. Those strategies are political will and commitment of the leaders, stakeholder empowerment (including farmers, workers, and researchers), good management, enough support facilities, and apply policy for rice price. The choice of tariff policy has essential implications for consumers and produces with policy makes having to decide between the trade-offs implied for the various stakeholders.
In conclusion, the success of food self sufficiency in Indonesia is depended on many variables, including government, stakeholders, and policy related to agricultural issue. Indonesia has a great potential to be one of developed country by strengthening its agricultural aspect. The biggest homework we need to do together is how to wake this sleeping tiger by synergizing government policies which support agriculture, research breakthrough in universities, and educating our farmers and other stakeholders. [rifkaaisyah]