Pandemic Boosts Potential Poverty and Food Insecurity

The poverty rate has increased since the onset of the pandemic, coupled with the potential for food insecurity due to constrained food production.

An elderly person in Kampung Rancasagatan, Gedebage District, Bandung, was very happy to receive rice packages from ACT and Quran Best. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, JAKARTA - The pandemic has boosted the poverty rate, as noted by the Indonesian Central Statistics Agency (BPS). As of September 2020, the number of poor people have increased to 27.55 million or around 10.19 percent of the total population as of September 2020 was 27.55 million people or equivalent to 10.19% of the total population, showing an increase of 0.97% compared to the previous year.

"The number of poor people in September 2020 was 27.55 million people, seeing an increase of 1.13 million people compared to March 2020 and 2.76 million people compared to September 2019," said the Head of Indonesian Central Statistics Agency Kecuk Suhariyanto in a virtual press conference, Monday (2/15/2021).

A warning about an impending food crisis has also been issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The series of natural disasters that have affected Indonesia since the beginning of the year have compounded the food crisis as the country’s food production has been disrupted.

“(Food availability) will definitely be affected. For instance, floods disturbed vegetable producing areas. Demand for vegetables and chilies has risen while the supplies are limited. Hence, the prices are rising, and finally it leads to inflation. Some commodities, like chili, has also been affected," said Tauhid Ahmad, Executive Director of the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef), Friday (1/22/21).

Farmers in Karawang plant rice in their field. (ACTNews / Eko Ramdani)

The increase of food prices is a burden on the consumers. On the other hand, delivering food supplies to disaster-hit locations isn’t easy and cheap. Sadly, people in disaster-hit areas can’t rely on their own local products. "Moreover, if the disaster hits food-producing areas, the whole region will be affected. There will be a shortage," said Tauhid.

Before the natural disasters that hit earlier this year, the Indonesian government had anticipated this food insecurity. The government, through the Ministry of Finance (Kemenkeu), had prepared a budget of nearly IDR 90 trillion for food security sector this year.

With this budget, the government will increase food production such as rice, corn, soybeans, meat and other commodities. In addition, the national food system will be revitalized to support Indonesia's food security.

Various parties have participated in strengthening food security. Aksi Cepat Tanggap has come up with programs to support the food production, including the Productive Food Waqf initiated by Global Wakaf – ACT.

Through this program, Global Wakaf - ACT empowers farmers to support their food production using waqf funds. Later, the produce will be used for humanitarian programs for those in need.

"Waqf can encourage people to be independent, to give to one another, and to imitate the examples of our predecessors in living in a society and a state. Waqf is also among the highest financial instruments because it impacts economic and social goals. If we can create the economy, and social life among one another will also be created. This will be the beginning of a civilization. Let's support waqf and let us fight for the food sovereignty of the people. Insha Allah, if the people are food sovereign, then the people will be independent, have self-respect, and be free from poverty, "explained Ahyudin as Chair of ACT’s supervisory Board on Sunday (11/22/2020).

The Productive Food Waqf is also one of the motors of the National Food Alms Movement initiated by ACT. Through this movement, ACT will facilitate the improvement of food sovereignty from the producers to the consumers so that it will benefit and empower many people. []