Advancing Indonesia’s Food Systems Transformation: A Stocktaking Moment
25 July 2023
Food - it’s not only something that fills up your belly. Food is key to development: it is the pinnacle of a vast and intricate system that supports the achievement of the ambitious targets set forth in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Indonesia is prepared to take a leading role in making food systems work for the realization of the SDGs.
This week, as a follow-up to the groundbreaking the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, the UNFSS+2 Stocktaking Moment is taking place in Rome to address the pressing need for a radical overhaul of food systems. The event enables countries to reevaluate and strengthen their commitment to action and exchange inspiring success stories.
Indonesia, with its rich and diverse agrifood systems, is playing a prominent role. The country’s 17,000 islands contribute to its significant food biodiversity. Despite strong agricultural development, some challenges remain; these include widespread poverty among farmers in some areas, unsustainable agriculture practices and malnutrition. Almost 70% of Indonesians cannot afford healthy food, according to a regional UN food security report.
Indonesia has achieved a significant milestone, reducing stunting among children under 5 years old to its lowest level in over two decades: down from 24.4% in 2021 to 21.6% last year. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) still considers stunting a chronic public health problem, as its prevalence exceeds 20% among small children. Insufficient nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life, poor sanitation, and limited access to clean water are key contributing factors.
“Indonesia has developed a national pathway for transforming food systems, the result of a series of dialogues at both national and sub-national levels,” said Vivi Yulaswati, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of National Development Planning (BAPPENAS). One of its implementations is fiscal transfer to support local governments in developing their local food systems. These transfers are expected to preserve into other uses.
In parallel, Indonesia is prioritizing two areas of research for future policy-making: financing strategies to complement fiscal transfers to local governments, and involving civil society, the private sector, and development partners in contributing to the transformation.
“A nutritious, sustainable, inclusive, and resilient food systems transformation cannot rely solely on public funding. Therefore, we must implement the right investment policies, especially in support of Indonesia's diversity,” she said.
Multilayers sector of the food systems
A food system includes all the aspects of feeding and nourishing people: growing, harvesting, packaging, processing, transporting, marketing, and consuming food. It encompasses all the interactions between people and the natural world – land, water, the climate, etc. – and the natural world’s effects on human health and nutrition.
It also includes the inputs, institutions, infrastructure, and services that support the functioning of all these aspects, as well as the role of diets and cultural practices in shaping outcomes.
“The food system is interconnected and multisectoral. We can’t simply look at the food system through the lens of production or consumption, but rather we must look at the whole food chain,” said Rajendra Aryal, the Representative in Indonesia of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Six UN agencies are working together to support introducing food systems thinking in development plans led by BAPPENAS.
The whole food chain includes nutrition, ensuring that individuals have access to diverse and nourishing diets; hygiene and food safety practices, which are essential for preventing foodborne illnesses; the environment, with considerations for sustainable practices to minimize ecological impact; and promoting gender equality, empowering women who play significant roles in agriculture and food processing.
Working with the UN in Indonesia to transform food systems
The government works with the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub to carry out research on financing the implementation of food systems transformation in Indonesia.
FAO is supporting BAPPENAS with the development of a model to make inclusive and informed decisions on food system transformation.
With assistance from the UN Environment, the government is conducting pilot testing for food system transformation in cities, including developing urban farming initiatives and similar approaches.
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) collaborated with the government on the preparation of a study about affordable healthy diets, taking into account geographical disparities. WFP's support includes scaling up post-harvest rice fortification through social protection programmes and engaging in policy dialogue to enhance national food systems' resilience.
“We seek to implement targeted strategies and innovative solutions to improve food security, nutrition, and the well-being of all, through locally-suitable, diversified production and
consumption,” said John Brooks, Deputy Country Director a.i. of WFP in Indonesia.
The government, with support from the UN Food Systems Coordination Hub, is establishing a multi-stakeholder platform, to translate food system transformation pathways into tangible collaborative projects.
It is showcasing the initiatives at the Rome event – inviting feedback.
“Indonesia has a lot to offer to other countries. Indonesia's presence at the UNFSS+2 Stocktaking Moment 2023, showcasing its work, and its good practices will be beneficial to many other countries. At the same time, this also gives an opportunity for Indonesia to learn from other countries and pick up good practices that we can adopt here,” Valerie Julliand, UN Resident Coordinator said.