Jakarta, Nov 2, 2017 (Antara) - The world faces a fundamental challenge to sustainably provide a healthy diet to a population of over nine billion by 2050.
As the most populous region in the world, Asia and the Pacific plays a decisive role in combating several interlinked issues at hand, such as malnutrition, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and rising greenhouse gas emissions.
Long-term discussions, however, are needed to tackle the issue of feeding a population of some four billion in the Asian and Pacific region, Vice President M. Jusuf Kalla stated while opening the First EAT Asia-Pacific Food Forum organized jointly by the EAT Foundation and the Indonesian Ministry of Health on Oct 30-31.
"When we speak at the Asia-Pacific forum, it means we highlight the interests of four billion people. If everyone eats thrice a day, then we are speaking about 12 billion plates a day," the vice president remarked.
Several challenges lie in the path towards boosting food productivity, including those related to land and the huge population that has put pressure on the agriculture sector.
However, all these challenges can be addressed by using technology that enables the nation to cater to the food demand, although it is not perfect, according to Kalla.
The government is finding a way to improve the food quality and productivity by utilizing technology in Indonesia, Kalla remarked.
Technology could help increase food production. For Indonesia, the increase in food production should be above 3 percent to achieve food security and self-sufficiency.
"In order to achieve food sustainability and self-sufficiency in Indonesia every year, there should be a productivity increase of above 3 percent," Kalla said.
In Indonesia, as much as 1.5 percent of agricultural lands are converted into industrial lands. Meanwhile, population growth is about 1.5 percent per year.
This indicates that the decline of agricultural land is not proportional to the increase in population growth. Moreover, climate change affects the agricultural sector as it affects the harvest and food supply.
To cope with those challenges, technology is essential to improve the productivity in the agricultural sector.
"Obtaining food sustainability and self-sufficiency depends on our efforts, including the role of scientists and academics in improving food productivity, healthy and eligible food packaging industry, government that supports all of these, as well as international cooperation," Kalla remarked.
He emphasized that the lack of food security could cause problems in a country. Inadequate food supply can also be a political problem that could destabilize a country.
In addition to the use of technology, coordination among ministries and between central and regional administrations is also needed to achieve food resilience, according to Finance Minister Sri Mulyani.
"We have room to settle the problem, but the challenges are not easy to deal with. Geographically, Indonesia can provide natural resources that are needed not only by us but also by the global community. Coordination is needed," she stated at the same forum.
The coordination is needed not only among ministries concerned with providing food supplies such as the ministry of agriculture and the ministry of fisheries but also between central and regional administrations, she said.
"Strong coordination between central and regional governments would be very important," she said.
Having a population of over 250 million, Indonesia currently ranks 71st among 113 countries in the world food resilience index.
Recently, positive news was revealed by Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman who said the British-based "The Economy Intelligent Unit" had placed Indonesia as the 16th country to have succeeded in creating sustainable agriculture.
"It is other countries that give the rating. What is worth noting is that Indonesia has been given a higher rating than the US and China. This position is the best we have attained until now," the minister said during his visit to Gorontalo on Monday.
He also said that at a recent meeting of the Asian agriculture ministers in Thailand, Indonesia was bestowed the honor of being given the opportunity to be the first to deliver a speech, as they were keen to learn from the country.
"Ministers from three countries are scheduled to visit Indonesia soon, especially to take a cue from our success in realizing self sufficiency in corn production," he said while speaking in Gorontalo, northern Sulawesi Island, known as the major producer of corn.
This indicates that Indonesia is viewed as being successful, and it is important to demonstrate to the world that Indonesia no longer needs to import rice, onion, corn, and chili, he added.
"This is a historical milestone achieved under the government of President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) that Indonesia has regained self sufficiency in rice. It is already the third year, and we are already exporting rice to six countries," he said.
Stability has been achieved in the chili market, and in the subsequent years, the government is optimistic of achieving the same feat with regard to soybean, sugar, and beef supply. This has to be carried out in stages, he said.
Hard work and determination are needed for achieving success, he added while congratulating Gorontalo for being able to boost corn production.
EDITED BY INE
(T.F001/A/BESSR/F. Assegaf) 02-11-2017
EDITED BY INE
(T.F001/A/BESSR/F. Assegaf) 02-11-2017