Indonesia’s Food Security Ranking Among ASEAN Countries: Will it be Corrected Due to Corona Virus?


Is there any effect of Covid-19 on Indonesia’s food security? If the panic continues, food imports are hampered, economic growth is stagnant, the price of needs are increasingly rising which results in a decrease in people’s food affordability, and there is a hoarding of food which causes people’s access to food to weaken, then Covid-19 will automatically have a significant effect on the ranking Indonesia’s food security. Therefore, to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on food security, the Government must reduce the chances of public panic caused by this Corona virus.

The Government’s efforts to realize food security at all this time have not been completely successful, although the efforts made by the Government needs to be appreciated. Referring to the annual presentations conducted by The Economist (2015-2019) – an indexing and rating agency for food security of countries in the world – Indonesia has not made it into the top 50 countries that have good food security. Indonesia’s food security ranking is still in the 60’s. In 2016, The Economist (2016) recognized Indonesia’s quite good achievements in efforts to achieve food security. Indonesia got the highest performance score in the world, with an achievement index of 2.7 commensurate with Myanmar. However, this spectacular achievement only raised Indonesia’s food security ranking from the 74th in 2015 to the 71st in 2016 and increased to the 69th in 2017. Furthermore, Indonesia’s food security rankings are rising to the ranking of the 65th in 2018 and to the 62nd in 2019 (Table 1).

Table 1. Indonesia’s Food Security Index Among The ASEAN Countries

No. ASEAN Country Global Food Security Index (GFSI) Global Food Security Improvement Index (GFSII)
2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
R I R I R I R I R I 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
1 Indonesia 74/6 46.7 71/5 50.6 69/5 51,3 65/5 54,8 62/5 62,6 0.1 2,7 0,2 1,6 0,6
2 Malaysia 34/2 69.0 35/2 69.0 41/2 66,2 40/2 68,4 28/2 73,8 0.7 0,1 -3,2 0,6 1,7
3 Cambodia 96/8 34.6 89/8 39.8 83/8 43,3 85/8 42,3 90/8 49,4 0.7 0,1 0,0 0,4 0,8
4 Myanmar 78/7 44.0 80/7 46.5 80/7 44,8 82/7 45,7 77/7 57,0 7.7 2,7 -0,7 0,1 1,0
5 Thailand 52/3 60.0 51/3 59.5 55/3 58,3 54/3 58,9 52/3 65,1 -0.3 0,5 -0,5 0,6 1,9
6 Vietnam 65/4 53.3 57/4 57.1 641/4 54,0 62/4 56,0 54/4 64,6 4.2 1,2 -2,2 0,7 0,5
7 Philippines 72/5 49.4 74/6 49.5 79/6 47,3 70/6 51,5 64/6 61,0 0.3 0,4 -1,0 2,5 1,7
8 Singapore 2/1 88,2 3/1 83,9 4/1 84,0 1/1 85,9 1/1 87,4 3.4 0,9 -0,6 0,9 0,0
9 Laos 103/9 32,7 102/9 33,1 95/9 38,3 92/9 49,1 0,2 0,4 2,7 1,6


R    = Ranking of food security in the world/ASEAN Countries

I      = Index of food security

Among the ASEAN countries, Indonesia’s food security is still ranked the 6th in 2015, then rose to the 5th place since 2016 (Table 1). Thus, Indonesia is still far below Singapore (which has become the top ten that has the highest food security in the world) and Malaysia (which has penetrated the top 30 countries that have good food security), even under Thailand and Vietnam. However, among the ASEAN countries, Indonesia may be proud because it is still above the Philippines, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Laos.

The Probability of Corona Virus Effect

To see about the possible influence of Covid-19 on Indonesia’s food security ranking, we need to look at indicators of food security. The Economist’s ranking of food security refers to three main indicators: food availability, food affordability, and food quality & safety.

For more detail, The Economist measures food availability based on: (1) adequacy of food supply, (2) government spending on agricultural research & development, (3) adequacy of agricultural infrastructure, (4) volatility or excitement of agricultural products, (4) political stability, (5) absorption of urban population (on agricultural products), and (6) food loss. But in this measurement, The Economist does not question, whether the availability of food comes from imported products or domestic products. Food availability can be done through imports. Therefore, countries that do not have agricultural land – such as Singapore – can rank in the top ten countries that have good food security, because they have high purchasing power.

The measurement of food affordability, according to The Economist (2017) is based on: (1) household expenditure for food procurement; (2) the proportion of the population below the world poverty line, purchasing power balance and exchange rate; (3) Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita; (4) Tariffs on imports of agricultural products; (4) food safety net program; and (5) farmers’ access to agricultural finance. Paying an attention of these indicators, The Economist (2017) seems to recommend food imports in order to achieve food affordability.

Meanwhile, the food quality & safety are measured based on: (1) diversification of food menu, (2) nutritional standards, (3) availability of micronutrients, (4) protein quality, and (5) food safety.

In 2018 The Economist presents Indonesia’s food security ranking based on each of these main indicators. In the light of food availability, The Economist (2018) ranks Indonesia at the 58th out of 113 countries. In this case Indonesia’s achievements are above the Philippines (which ranks the 63rd in the world), above Thailand (which is ranked the 65th in the world), and above Vietnam (which ranks the 72nd in the world), above Myanmar (which is ranked the 78th in the world), ahead of Cambodia (which is ranked the 90th), and above Laos (which is ranked the 96th). However, Indonesia’s ranking – based on this indicator – is far below Singapore (which is ranked the 15th in the world) and below Malaysia (which ranks the 42nd in the world).

Based on food affordability, Indonesia’s food security has fallen to the 63rd, far below Singapore (which is ranked the first in the world), Malaysia (ranked 36th), Thailand (ranked 51st in the world), and under Vietnam (ranked 56th in the world). However, Indonesia is still proud because – based on food affordability indicators – Indonesia’s ranking is above the Philippines (the 74th in the world), Cambodia (the 83rd in the world), Myanmar (the 85th in the world), and above Laos (the 89th in the world).

Furthermore, based on food quality & safety, Indonesia fell to the 84th out of 113 countries; below Singapore (world of rank of 24th), Malaysia (world rank of 38th), Thailand (world rank of 58th), Vietnam (world rank of 65th), Philippines (world rank of 69th), Myanmar (world rank of 72nd), even below African countries, such as Nigeria (77th), Botswana (81st), and Kenya (83rd). But for ASEAN countries, Indonesia is still above Cambodia (world rank of 97th) and above Laos (96th in the world).

Thus, the food security rating is the average weighting of the three main indicators. If the weight of one indicator falls due to certain factors, the food security index will decrease. If food imports are disrupted due to corona outbreaks, the weight of food availability will decrease. Likewise, if food affordability decreases due to Government spending on food decreases due to corona, or stagnant economic growth, then the Indonesian food security apparatus will be corrected. Hypothetically, Indonesia’s food security rating will be corrected after COVID-19, especially if the virus has not been resolved for a long time.

The Adjusted Food Security Ranking

Since 2017 The Economist added one variable to measure the food security of countries in the world, namely: natural resources & environmental resilience. Partially based on natural resource indicators and their endurance, Indonesia ranked the 109th in 2017, out of 113 selected countries. In 2018 it declined at 111, and rose again to the 110th in 2019. For ASEAN countries – minus Brunei Darussalam that have not been included in the ranking by The Economist – for three years (2017-2019) Indonesia is at lowest order (the 9th order). The most successful country in maintaining natural resources as to support food security among ASEAN countries is Myanmar, followed by Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. For three years the ranking has fluctuated, but Myanmar has always been the first ranking, and Laos is the second; while Indonesia is always ranked the 9th (Table 2).

Table 2. Index of Natural Resources & Resilience for Food Security & Adjusted Rank

No ASEAN Country 2017 2018 2019
1 Indonesia 109/9 46,5 73(-4) 44,4 111/9 43,9 68(-3) 47,1 110/9 40,7 65(-3) 53,3
2 Malaysia 100/6 52,1 43 (-2) 58,3 97/6 51,9 42(-2) 59,9 74/5 52,8 34(-5) 65,1
3 Cambodia 93/5 53,8 84(-1) 39,3 59/4 61,3 86(-1) 38,2 70/4 53,3 92(-2) 43,6
4 Myanmar 27/1 69,5 80(-0) 41,4 25/1 69,6 79(+3) 42,2 15/1 68,5 69(+8) 52,5
5 Thailand 45/3 64,5 53(+2) 53,1 40/3 66,4 53(+1) 54,0 46/3 59,0 51(+1) 58,4
6 Vietnam 75/4 58,1 64(-0) 48,3 85/5 55,0 63(-1) 49,7 94/6 48,2 57(-3) 56,2
7 Philippines 101/7 52,0 79(-0) 41,6 101/7 51,0 75(-5) 45,2 108/7 42,5 72(-8) 52,2
8 Singapore 106/8 49,2 19 (-15) 73,3 103/8 50,3 16(-15) 75,2 109/8 42,4 12(-11) 74,8
9 Laos 32/2 68,7 98(+4) 30,4 28/2 69,0 93(+2) 35,3 38/2 62,1 87(+5) 44,5


RNR&R = Ranking of Natural Resources & Resilience for food security in the world/ASEAN

I             = Index of Natural Resources & Resilience

RAFS     = Ranking of Adjusted Food Security

SAFS     = Score of Adjusted Food Security

The Economist adopts seven main indicators to measure the quality of natural resources and environmental endurance for food security, namely: (1) exposure, (2) water irrigation, (3) land carrying capacity, (4) oceans, (5) sensitivity, (6) adaptability, and (7) demographic pressures. Regarding exposure, The Economist measures it by increasing the temperature of the air, drought, flooding, storm sensitivity, sea level rise, and commitment to control these various exposures

Regarding irrigation, The Economist proposes two indicators, namely: the risk of quantity and quality of water for agricultural activities.

To measure soil quality, The Economist proposes three sub-indicators, including: (1) soil erosion/soil organic content, (2) preservation of grassland /rice fields, and (3) forest change.

Regarding the ocean, according to the Economist, there are three important aspects as a barometer for the carrying capacity of food security, namely: (1) Eutrophication and hypoxia, (2) Marine biodiversity, and (3) Marine protected areas.

As for food sensitivity, The Economist presents three aspects of indicators for the carrying capacity of food security, namely: (1) dependence on imported food, (2) dependence on natural capital, and (3) disaster risk management.

Related to adaptability, according to The Economist, there are two indicators, namely: (1) measurement of early warning or intelligence to read climate conditions; and (2) national risk management system for agriculture

Furthermore, regarding demographic pressures, there are two important aspects, namely: population growth and urbanization.

The Economist weighs quantitatively on these seven aspects, using data from various national and international statistical sources, such as data from government websites and data from development banks. In addition, The Economist also frequently conducts direct surveys. The Economist said, the data that is often used for weighting each indicator is the data of the Economist Intelligent Unit (EIU), the World Bank Group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Development Program (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Agricultural Science and Technology Indicators (ASTI), ND-GAIN, the World Resources Institute (WRI) , and each country’s statistical office.

If the natural resources and its resilience are taken into account, it could correct the ranking of food security achieved by countries in the world. Indonesia, for example, based on three main indicators of food availability, affordability, and food quality & safety, in 2017 ranked the 69th out of 113 countries by the index of 51.3; then ranked the 65th in 2018 with an index of 54.8; and is ranked the 62nd in 2019 by the index of 62.6. The closer the 100 index numbers obtained, the country will reach a degree of perfection in food security. As an illustration, Singapore in 2017 received a food security index of 84.0 which placed it at the number of 4th in the world as a country has good food security, close to 100. Then in 2018, the State obtained an index of 85.9; and in 2019 obtained an index of 87.4. In those two years (2018 and 2019), Singapore was ranked the 1st in the world as the country with the highest level of food security.

However, after the natural resource factors and their resilience were taken into account as indicators of food security, Singapore fell to the 19th rank of adjusted food security in 2017 with a reduction of 15 points; then in the 16th of adjusted rank in 2018 with a reduction of 15 points; and it is in the 12th of adjusted rank in 2019 with a reduction of 11 points. Indonesia got the same experience, in 2017 it was ranked the 73rd of adjusted food security (with 4 points correction); in 2018 the 68th of adjusted rank (with 3 points correction); and was in the 65th of adjusted rank (with 3 points corrected) in 2019. More complete about the Natural Resource & Resilience ranking for food security, adjusted rank, correction points, and adjusted food security index for ASEAN countries presented in Table 2.

In line with Indonesia’s ranking in terms of natural resource and resilience for food security, The Economist (2018) provides an important note for Indonesia, where the largest and most extensive country in Southeast Asia is less able to maintain the existence of Grassland (rice fields), agricultural infrastructure, and the absence agrarian policies for increasing national food security. More clearly, The Economist (2018: 28) reminds:

“Indonesia’s rapid deforestation and poorly preserved grassland undermine the country’s agricultural productivity. Experts agree that Indonesia needs to develop more effective agrarian policies, including raising yields of subsistence crops, reconstructing irrigation systems and instituting land policies and enforcement that protect land-grabbing from industrialized agriculture.” 

In addition, the economic slowdown caused by the corona virus (COVID-19) could be a correction factor for Indonesia’s food security rating. Orlik et al. (2020) illustrates that Chinese imports reached $2.1 trillion. Sales in China are revenue for various multinational companies. The hampered supply chain from and to China will have a significant effect on the economic growth of countries in the world. According to the calculation of Orlik et al (2020), Indonesia will be affected by a reduction in economic growth of around 2.8 percent. With this economic situation, it can be estimated that Indonesia’s food security ranking will be corrected due to this corona virus. ***


List of Reference

The Economist, 2015, Global food security index 2015: An annual measure of the state of global food security. A Report from The Economist Intelligent Unit.

The Economist, 2016, Global food security index 2016: An annual measure of the state of global food security. A Report from The Economist Intelligent Unit

The Economist, 2017, Global Food Security Index 2017: Measuring Food Security and The Impact of Resource Risks. A Report from The Economist Intelligent Unit.

The Economist, 2018, Global Food Security Index 2018: Building Resilience in the Face Rising of Food Security Risk. A Report from The Economist Intelligent Unit

The Economist, 2019, Global Food Security Index 2019: Strengthening food systems and the environment through innovation and investment. A Report from The Economist Intelligent Unit

Orlik, Tom, Jamie Rush, Maeva Cousin and Jinshan Hong, 2020, “Coronavirus Could Cost the Global Economy $2.7 Trillion. Here’s How.” From https://www.

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