The whole world is now focused on the Corona virus. Then suddenly food issue becomes the most important after health after during this time was marginalized both by the authorities and their people. The marginalization of food issues is more due to the state policies’ alignment to consumers rather than to food producers, followed by an instant culture that has become ingrained at the people’s level. Farmers as the main food producers are stripped of their protection by the various schemes of production medium full of their outside farm input, including seeds, while their harvests are undervalued.
The Large-Scale Social Limitation Policy (PSBB) by the Ministry of Health significantly influences the food and agriculture situation. At least there are two things have changed that are readable at the village level, namely the agricultural product distribution and household-scale food supply. The farmers complained about the delays in the delivery of their harvest, especially vegetables, so their products piled up in the village area at a low price. A lot of cases of hunger occur because of loss of income for the urban poor who depend on food from the market. Meanwhile, the urban middle class is still food safe by producing its own food by utilizing a lot of time being at home and sufficient knowledge on urban farming.
Responding to this reality, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a policy to encourage the optimization of the market and local food. While the implementation has not seen yet in the grassroots, a similar movement has been built by people’s initiatives. In urban areas, residents activate family gardens. They began to return to the agrarian culture, the original heritage of the archipelago’s ancestors. By growing their own plants, practicing storage and exchanging seeds between communities, and the application of fertilizers from the materials around the house, they built good, healthy food independence to ward virus infections. In rural areas, subsistence agriculture by small farmers, on the contrary, keeps it away from the food crisis. There are no significant cases of starvation seen because local food consumption is still maintained, likewise the mutual cooperation culture. As time goes by, vegetable prices become better in traditional markets due to the improved distribution channels, i.e. shortened to the nearest urban area or the intervention of government policy in encouraging exports.
The Food Security Agency has launched a local food movement to strengthen national food security. The momentum of this virus epidemic has become strategic in forming Indonesia’s future agricultural buildings, by relying on local seeds of the nation’s traditional breeders as well as protecting the nature preservation with their contribution to biodiversity. Although on the other hand the Ministry of Agriculture also has corporate-based seeding policy, which is more focused on hybrid and certified seeds, people’s initiatives to develop local seed cooperatives, such as by KOBETA (cooperativebeta.com), come out with a strong commitment to protect ancestral traditions that become bastion of virus epidemic and building people’s economy.
Dian Pratiwi Pribadi
Member of Fian Indonesia