Improved diet needed to combat malnutrition in Indonesia

In Indonesia, the average dietary pattern is not typical of a middle-income country, with over-dependency on rice and low consumption of vegetables, fruit, meat, and fat. In fact, Indonesia has among the highest share of energy intake from grains – specifically rice – in the world. The share of non-starchy foods is 30 per cent, while the global average is 50 per cent.
Rates of fruit and vegetable consumption are less than half of the nationally recommended daily intake and are declining. Diets are relatively low in fats and oils, at around 20 per cent of total calories consumed compared to 30–50 per cent in European countries. Indonesia has one of the richest biodiversities in the world, and a wide range of food plants and animals are available, but diets here are based on a shrinking range of crops and animals.

“In Indonesia the prices of staple foods are challenging, and we see the reality that Indonesia has one of most expensive food baskets in Southeast Asia. In fact, hunger and obesity coexist across Indonesia, and sometimes even in the same household,” Stephen Rudgard, FAO Representative said in his speech in today at the Opening of 2019 World Food Day national celebration in Angata, Kendari.

The national prevalence of stunting in children under the age of 5 years is highly significant at just over 30% and the prevalence of wasting for the same age group is also highly significant at 10%. On the other hand, 8% of children in Indonesia are obese.

Innovations, the only way out

The national theme for World Food Day this year, “Agriculture and Food Industry Technology toward Indonesia World Food Barn 2045” is very important. In Indonesia, productive agricultural land is estimated to have reduced by 600,000 ha in the last five years, due to change in use including urbanization. In addition, competition for land use exists between food crop production and other commodities.

Significant demographic shifts are taking place in Indonesia, and the agricultural labour force has fallen by nearly 9 percent in the last five years, mainly due to rural-urban migration. Younger people are moving so the farming population is getting older and the sector is facing a generational gap.

FAO, IFAD and WFP are assisting the Government to examine food systems from production to processing and retailing to identify how innovation in polices and institutions can create a more enabling environment.

“FAO is collaborating with Government in identifying ways to improve efficiencies of food chains from farm to fork, to reduce costs of transport and processing, and to reduce food waste. All these actions will help people to improve their diets,” added Rudgard.

FAO has been collaborating with the Government on approaches to encourage farmers to apply their local knowledge and resourcefulness to adopt innovative technologies and practices to improve the efficiency of food production, such as smarter crop protection to reduce losses, and selective mechanization to reduce labour.

“The actions that are needed right through the food chain to reduce costs and ensure healthy and sustainable diets accessible and affordable to everyone,” Rudgard said.

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