Managing Inflaton : Food Diversification


Early 2014, Indonesia was greeted with the disaster that hit various parts of its region. Of the many disasters, one of which attracted the attention of the public is flash floods that hit northern Sulawesi in January 2014. The floods that hit four regions, namely Manado, Tomohon, Minahasa and North Minahasa caused severe damage to infrastructure in the region.

Infrastructure damaged in the floods would disrupt the supply and distribution of staple goods that can potentially raise the rate of inflation. Interestingly, the release from the Central Bureau of Statistics figures showed inflation Manado, at 1.06% (month to month) in January. A month after the disaster, Manado even experienced deflation of 0.23% (month to month) so until February Manado inflation stood at 0.83% (year to date). Manado inflation rate is relatively low and is still below the national inflation rate stood at 1.33% (year to date).

Compared with other regions also experienced disasters, such as Banten which also suffered flood damage scale not worse, the phenomenon of inflation in Manado becomes very special. Inflation Banten recorded well above inflation Manado with inflation of 2.04% (year to date).

Sure sufficient supply and efficient distribution effect on the low inflation rate in Manado despite a flood disaster. But beyond that, there are also the factors that food preferences in Manado vary enough so it does not depend on the one type of staple foods. This case is very different when compared to Banten which only recognize rice as a staple food.

Aside food diversification is important to enhance and sustain food security, it also has a significant role in maintaining price stability. Diversification of food gives the option to the people so that when there is a disruption or scarcity in certain types of staple foods, people can turn to other foods. The existence of this option may reduce the demand is too high on the types of foods that can reduce the risk of unreasonable price hike.

Indonesia is a very large consumer of rice in the world. Statistic Central Bureau in 2009 declared Indonesia’s rice consumption of 139 kilograms per capita per year. When the rice requirement per capita multiplied by the population of Indonesia in 2010 (237.6 million), the national rice requirement is closer to 50 million tons. This number is very large and difficult to meet given the national rice production until the year 2010 alone the national rice production is below 40 million tons.

Once we know some local wisdom such as Papua and Nusa Tenggara where the people there consume corn and sago as a staple food. But such wisdom is now beginning to erode. Almost extinction of local knowledge cannot be separated from the national food policy food uniformity became a national program in the era of the New Order government is applied in all parts of Indonesia.

Despite not exactly one hundred percent successful, this results in changes in consumption patterns resulting Indonesia habit of eating a variety of foods such as cassava, maize, sago, sweet potato, and taro, which was later replaced by the rice as a staple food.

Actually the concept of diversification is not a new thing, but it needs to be re-cultivated to anticipate price fluctuations especially with the uncertainty of the weather due to climate change. Slowly people need to be invited to re-apply the food pattern according to local wisdom. People of Sulawesi, Maluku, and Papua again rely on sago as a staple food. Additionally, Javanese people can re-consume crops, such as cassava, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

The same thing needs to be done in other areas, where the diversity of the food needs of the primary focus. With the reduction of dependence on a commodity only, in the event of supply disruptions in the particular commodity, people still have a choice of other commodities so that prices do not rise too high.

Food diversification should also be accompanied by the development based on local wisdom which pattern diversification should refer to the use of domestic raw materials such as seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. This is intended to reduce dependence on imported food so that in the event of commodity price volatility in overseas had little influence on domestic inflation.

Even though diversification may impact on macroeconomic indicators, but the effort to start can be initiated at the micro-level stimulation, which is households. To improve the quality of nutrition, household food can start to change the patterns. To reduce the dependence of children on fast food, housewives can process the tubers into delicious and interesting meals.

The regions in Indonesia have a wealth outstanding culinary. Almost every region in Indonesia have a unique local specialties with a raw material that can be obtained without the need to bring in from other areas, sometimes even the raw materials available in their own yard.

The diet variation in the level of the family in turn may reflect the very wide variation of food in the aggregate. Indeed the interests of to strengthen diversification is not only limited to controlling inflation because of the homogeneity of food, yet also become the foundation back to the culture in which Indonesia is known as agrarian with a wide variety of food diversity.

Published on The Jakarta Post, 24 March 2014

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