The Price of Rice: Growing Food Security Concerns in Indonesia

Concerns are growing about Indonesia’s food security. Ranked 63rd out of 113 countries by the Global Food Security Index, a number of factors have contributed to the issue, including the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, supply disruptions and international conflicts.1 Last year, a UN report found that almost 70% of people in Indonesia cannot afford healthy food, with many now forced to adopt a modified diet of reduced nutritional intake amid economic ramifications.2

The Ganjar-Mahfud presidential candidate pair is advocating for a diversified food supply that prioritises local products, with the use of environmentally friendly research and technology to increase sustainability.3Conversely, the Prabowo-Gibran team aim to transition rural communities into extensive agriculture producers through the assistance of technology.3 This would theoretically allow for increased farming output while maintaining existing agricultural lands.

Currently, the Widodo government runs a controversial food estate program aimed at increasing Indonesia’s self-sufficiency potential by converting areas into agricultural land across the nation.3 However, this program has received criticism from the Anies-Muhaimin camp for its ecological costs, neglect of farmers and exploitation of indigenous people.3 Even with the program in place, Indonesia imported 3 million tons of rice in 2023, with similar orders expected this year.3


Indonesia’s food security problem requires a multifaceted solution. In the interim, strong and reliable supplies must be located and secured, whilst infrastructure and protective measures should also be introduced to improve resilience and self-sufficiency. With the election in February, planning for long term measures is likely an inefficient use of time; immediate relief is an urgent priority. The food estate program has failed to make the impact that had been envisioned. The program was originally designed to offset rice imports from other nations, but that outcome has not eventuated.4 There have also been reports of abandoned machinery and failed harvests, generating a question as to the true impact of the almost four-year-old program.4

[1] Bhwana, Petir Garda, (2023), “Bapanas Says Indonesia’s Food Security Not Good, Ranked 63rd Out of 113 Countries,” Tempo, December 6. Retrieved:

[2] UN, (2023), “Advancing Indonesia’s Food Systems Transformation: A Stocktaking Moment,” United Nations Indonesia, July 25. Retrieved:,regional%20UN%20food%20security%20report.

[3] Andriyanto, Heru, (2024), “Muhaimin Criticizes ‘Food Estate’ Program in Latest Debate,” Jakarta Globe, January 21. Retrieved:

[4] Jong, Hans Nicholas, (2023), “Report: Indonesia’s ‘Food Estate’ Program Repeating Failures of Past Projects,” Mongabay, April 11. Retrieved:


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