Indonesia must overhaul its trade policies to avoid a hunger and poverty catastrophe over the next few decades, with experts predicting the demand for food in the largest archipelago in the world will quadruple by 2050, according to ABC News. 

A new report from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics (ABARES) claims food imports and domestic production will be equally essential to guarantee food security for the country’s 273 million people moving forward.

While policy is starting to shift, complex trade and legal restrictions and a fixation on self-sufficiency are said to remain.

By mid-century, it’s likely food imports will need to make up three-quarters of the nation’s food consumption.

“We expect food demand to quadruple by 2050 based on rapid growth in the country’s demand for more diverse and higher value foods such as meat, dairy, fruit, and vegetables,” ABARES Executive Director Jared Greenville said in a media release. “This forecast strong growth in demand means that Indonesia’s agriculture sector will not be able to supply future food needs.”

The report claims a “historical focus on self-sufficiency” has inadvertently caused higher food prices.

As food prices have risen, the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed 1.1 million Indonesians into poverty, setting poverty-reduction progress in the nation back three years, according to a report published in June by the World Bank.

Around 10% of the population — 27.5 million people — now live under the poverty line. 

"About 1.8 million Indonesians became unemployed between February 2020 and 2021, and another 3.2 million people exited the labour force,” the World Bank explains. “Three hundred thousand fewer youth entered the labour market. About 2.8 million people have fallen into poverty as of September 2020, with the government’s social assistance program mitigating a potentially worse outcome.”

ABARES is calling for Indonesia to immediately consider allowing further foreign produce investment. 

"To improve Indonesia’s food security, greater openness to trade is required, both to reduce food prices and manage supply risk,” the report states. “Not only would this make food more affordable, but it would also diminish the distortionary effects past policies have had on the agrifood sector.” 

Importing fruit and red meat from Australia, Indonesia’s south-east neighbor, could be a unique win-win, ABARES writes.


Defeat Poverty

Food Demand Set to Quadruple in Indonesia by 2050, With Urgent Policy Shifts Required to Meet Need

By Madeleine Keck