Pottentially To Get Food Unsecure

The Indonesia’s food security index, as reported by Tabloidsinartani.com (November 1, 2018) shows quite positive success. Of course this is a matter of pride that Indonesia in 2018 got an amazing achievement in agricultural development. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) – an institution that used to rank food security for countries in the world based in London – ranked Indonesia at the 65th from 113 selected countries, with 54.8 of achievement index from 100 expected score. The improvement index achieved by Indonesia in 2018 is also quite high, namely 1.6, far above Malaysia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam which did not reach 1.

The Indonesia’s achievements in agricultural development, according to The Economist, have been rising since 2016. In 2014 Indonesia’s food security index was ranked at the 74th; and in 2015 it dropped to the 74th, far below Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, and even below Vietnam. However, since 2016 Indonesia has gotten a glorious achievement measured by The Economist’s index of food security. Indonesia’s ranking sped up to the 71st in 2016, then climbed to the 69th in 2017. In 2016 the index for improving food security reached 2.7 – which is the highest figure achieved by various countries in the world. Strictly speaking, Indonesia’s index of improvement is at the top of 113 selected countries. It is the improvement that lifted Indonesia from the 74th rank in 2015 to the 71st rank in 2016 (Table 1.).

Table 1. The Rank of Global Food Security Index for ASEAN Countries


No Country Global Food Security Index Improvement Index for Global Food Security
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 201`4 2015 2016 2017 2018
1 Indonesia 72 46.5 74 46.7 71 50.6 69 51.3 65 54.8 0 0.1 2.7 0.2 1.6
2 Malaysia 34 68.0 34 69.0 35 69.0 41 66.2 40 68,1 2.0 0.7 0.1 -3.2 0,6
3 Cambodia 96 33.1 96 34.6 89 39.8 83 43.3 85 42.3 0 0.7 0.1 1.1 0.4
4 Myanmar 86 37.6 78 44.0 80 46.5 80 44.8 82 45.7 -4.1 7.7 2.7 -0.7 0.1
5 Thailand 45 58.9 52 60.0 51 59.5 55 58.5 54 58.9 0.5 -0.3 0.5 -0.5 0.6
6 Vietnam 67 49.1 65 53.3 57 57.1 64 54.0 62 56.0 -0.2 74.2 1.2 -2.2 0.7
7 Philippines 65 49.4 72 49.4 74 49.5 79 47.3 70 51.5 0.3 0.3 0.4 -1.0 2.5

Sources: The Economist (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018)

Notes   : R = Ranking, I = Index


However, the glorious achievements in 2016 and 2017 have not brought Indonesia to the top 40 high food security countries. The top five countries that have the highest food security are still achieved by the European and American countries. For Southeast Asia – after Singapore was excluded because it was among the top ten countries in the world to achieve high food security – Malaysia in 2016 ranked the highest of food secure countries or the 35th in the worlds. In 2016, Indonesia was still beaten by Vietnam – as a rising star in Southeast Asia – which ranks 57th, and is also below Thailand. In 2017 when Indonesia ranked 69th, this position remained below Malaysia (41st), Thailand (51st) and Vietnam (57th). Likewise, in 2018 Indonesia’s food security position remains below the three Southeast Asian countries.


The Indicator of Food Security

The rank of food security state is based on three main indicators, namely food availability, affordability and food quality & safety, not to question whether imported food or domestic products. Since 2017 The Economist has presented new indicator of natural resources and its resilience, including the ability to manage and maintain agricultural land. This indicator seems to pay attention to the ability of a country to sustain the availability of natural resources and land. The Economist admitted, this indicator has not been taken into account to determine the overall food security ranking.

However, based on the last indicator, Indonesia is ranked the 109th out of 113 selected countries. In 2018, Indonesia’s position collapsed to the 111th rank below Congo – a country in Central Africa. This is not surprising because Indonesia is experiencing a massive paddy-rice field conversation. FAO, IFAD and WFP (2014) have warned that Indonesia has potentially to experience a food crisis due to the agricultural land use change, although these three institutions objectively recognize the Indonesia’s success in overcoming the problem of malnutrition.


Food Security Anomaly

It is strongly surprising, despite the high agricultural land conversion, Indonesia continues to achieve food security status. But, by in-depth studying the detailed indicators of food availability, affordability, and food quality & safety, it is not amazing because the indicators formulated by The Economist do not prohibit the imported food, or even it tends to recommend it. The high food import tariffs are undesirable to support food affordability. The Economist acknowledges that Singapore is dependent upon the imported food, but in 2018 this country is the highest food security state.

By this reason, it needs the adequate knowledge regarding the details of the three main indicators formulated by The Economist. The detailed indicators of affordability, according to The Economist (2017), include: (a) household expenditure for food consumption; (b) the proportion of the population below the world poverty line (presentation of population earning below 3.1 USD/day, balance of purchasing power and exchange rate); (c) Gross Domestic Product per capita; (d) Import tariffs for agricultural products; (e) food safety net-program; and (f) farmers’ access to finance.

The availability of food is measured based on eight indicators, namely: (a) adequacy of food supply, (b) government spending on agricultural research & development, (c) adequacy of agricultural infrastructure, (d) volatility or the excitement of agricultural products, (e ) political stability, (f) absorption of urban population (on agricultural products), and (g) food loss.

In line with this, The Economist also presents details of food quality & safety indicators, including: (a) diet-diversification, (b) nutritional standards, (c) availability of micronutrients, (d) protein quality, and (e) food security.

Based on this indicator, Indonesia may have high food security, even if it is obtained from imports. But it is worrying Indonesia will probably experience a food crisis if there are problems with imported food. Therefore, what is important is not just food security but food self-sufficiency. For this reason, the indicators of natural resources & resilience must be the main indicators to rank food security. Or even, we should make local indicators that lead to achieve food self-sufficiency. ***



The Economist, 2014, Global Food Security Index 2014: An annual measure of the  state of global food security, a report from the economist intelligence unit.

The Economist, 2015, Global Food Security Index 2015: An annual measure of the  state of global food security, a report from the economist intelligence unit.

The Economist, 2016, Global Food Security Index 2016: An annual measure of the state of global food security, a report from the economist intelligence unit

The Economist, 2017, Global Food Security Index 2017: Measuring Food Security And the Impact of Resource Risks, A report from the economist intelligence unit.

The Economist, 2018, Global Food Security Index 2018: Building Resilience in the Face of Food Security Risk, a report from the economist intelligence unit.

FAO, IFAD and WFP, 2014, the State of Food Insecurity in the World: Strengthening the Enabling Environment for Food Security and Nutrition. Rome: FAO.