Indonesia’s Opportunities and Challenges in Facing the World Food Crisis

The challenge of the world food crisis is very real due to the unpredictable world politics. Many countries including Indonesia are quite worried about the current world economic instability. A number of countries responded in different ways to save their domestic food. Thus, this crisis brings not only a dilemma for countries that do not have sufficient food resources but also for countries that have sufficient food resources or countries that have food superiority in certain fields. The state must be able to have a solution policy so as not to get caught in a crisis because not a single country can survive without cooperation with other countries let alone food issues.

Indonesia as one of the countries with the largest palm oil plantations in the world and has become a major actor in meeting global palm oil demand. Indonesia is able to maintain its position as the largest palm oil producer in the world. Indonesia’s palm oil exports are getting bigger because the world’s sunflower seed oil potential is experiencing very high structural constraints. The obstacle in question is the conflict between Ukraine and Russia which causes sunflower seed oil to not be produced properly. In addition, sunflower seed oil and soybean oil experienced production constraints due to crop failures by the biggest soybean oil producers, namely Agentina and Paraguay experienced drought. In facing global climate uncertainty and world political instability, Indonesia must be more aware of the current situation and always ensure that Indonesia is able to face the challenges of political instability and the global climate.

In March 2022, Indonesia experienced a shortage of cooking oil because Indonesia was not able to control exports and control food oil entrepreneurs not to play the market as they saw the potential for profit because of the reduced competitors in oil producers who were considered able to increase their profits. This tends to be allowed but not done domestically. How ironic for an oil-producing country to experience an extraordinary oil scarcity. This creates a negative image of Indonesia’s domestic economic regulations and also triggers a high level of social conflict because people cannot afford to buy cooking oil at high prices. However, the Indonesian government has solved this problem by limiting the export of fried oil. However, the conflict between Ukraine and Russia is still going on and the world is still unable to solve the complex climate change problem with various climate change mitigations formulated in the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as well as the agenda of international development institutions such as UNDP-SDGs, World Bank, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and G20. Indonesia must be more careful in entering into regional trade agreements to facilitate the implementation of exports. Indonesia’s participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has provided opportunities to reduce trade borders in the region and other member countries. This will have negative implications from Indonesia’s involvement in RCEP on the palm oil industry, domestic supply, employee welfare and the relationship between oil palm plantations and deforestation that triggers environmental damage. Thus, Indonesia must formulate the domino effect that occurs.

One of the things that Indonesia needs to do in dealing with this problem is to reorient trade policies to maintain its position as a palm oil producer and be able to maintain the domestic demand for cooking oil (food oil). This is done so that Indonesia is not trapped in the negative impact of market liberalization in the midst of the world food crisis. To withdraw the Indonesian government’s policy in dealing with the food oil crisis by increasing export tariffs. Learning from Japan in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, the initial effort made by the Japanese government was to seek domestic food security. Quoting from Yoshida and Yagi (2021) that agriculture has a large buffer capacity to overcome the crisis. The Japanese government is developing urban agriculture as a strategy for resilience and sustainability for farmers in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore this policy must be an example for Indonesia

The Indonesian government is still able to control policies regarding these problems. In accordance with the opinion of K.J. Holsti that foreign policy is an idea or idea in forming a formulation with the aim of solving problems that occur in a country. Thus the reason for Indonesia to increase palm oil export tariffs. In the midst of the world food oil crisis, increasing export tariffs is an economic policy step that will certainly be carried out by any country, not only Indonesia. The increase in tariffs was also due to Indonesia following fluctuations in world market prices.

Another threat that later emerged was the world economic challenge, the world food crisis due to world political instability, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and global climate change, which has yet to be resolved. This later emerged as a challenge that still gripped Indonesia and the world because a number of countries did not want to export food to other countries to meet domestic needs. President Joko Widodo in a meeting with 7 Jokowi volunteers stated that there were 22 countries that stopped their food needs for their domestic needs. In addition, the threat of a world crisis is increasing, citing the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, there are 40 countries experiencing severe economic shocks and are certain to collapse. As the younger generation, it is necessary to have a high sense of crisis to be able to carry out policy incentives as a solution for Indonesia. Indonesia is self-sufficient in food, but has not been able to survive this crisis well. Even though President Joko Widodo stated that Indonesia had stopped importing rice in the last 3 years with the strategy of building a dam to support rice farming in Indonesia. However, Indonesia is still hampered by imports of soybeans and wheat and other raw materials. Therefore, the government must implement the same policy strategy as rice farming so that soybeans and wheat do not depend on exports.

Indonesia must be aware that one of the largest wheat producing countries is trapped in a conflict. Ukraine as a “European Bread” basket country is still in a state of chaos, political instability so that the wheat food crisis will also have more potential to occur. The world food crisis triggered by international problems, namely world political instability must be an important concern for Indonesia not to be careless with the world situation. Thus, the government must be careful in dealing with unstable world politics. Competition in the interests of big countries has triggered an extraordinary economic crisis that has an impact on emerging countries such as Indonesia and developing countries. The solution is that Indonesia must have sufficient food self-sufficiency. If Indonesia can survive for three years not import rice by increasing the construction of dams to encourage better rice farming. So the same thing must be done on corn, soybean and wheat farming so that Indonesia can survive in facing the world food crisis.

Based on data from the World Bank in June 2022, inflation in developed countries has increased to 6.95% this year and the inflation rate in developing countries has increased to 9.37%. The increase in the inflation rate is expected to last for a long time because Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has not ended yet so that world food and energy prices will continue to rise. In addition, a number of countries in Africa and the Middle East have been affected by major food shortages due to closed trade routes. Thus the surge in inflation will pressure the central bank to tighten monetary policy in order to control prices. In addition, a number of countries will restrict food exports to foreign countries to maintain domestic food security. This should be a consideration for the Indonesian government to be able to survive in the face of this crisis. The ASEAN countries that are most concerned about rising inflation are Indonesia and Thailand. If inflation is high, it will weaken the country’s economy so that the threat of poverty and malnutrition becomes a big challenge for the Indonesian government.

Ica Cahayani
Ica Cahayani
Ica Cahayani is a graduate student in International Relation Studies at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia. Her research interests include practices and policies in international cooperation and development covering the realms of global political economy, security, gender, global value chains and diplomacy. Other research interests Commentries focus on the Indopacific region, ASEAN and Europe. Her actively writes in various domestic and foreign media regarding the latest international relations issues, such as the issue of the ukraine conflict, the phenomenon of world food oil scarcity, the presidency of the G20 Indonesia and its challenges and cultural diplomacy.