Prof Ali Khomsan Discusses the Importance of Generating Local Food during the Pandemic

Indonesia as an agricultural country should be able to achieve the title of self-sufficient in food. But in reality, the largest food producing countries in the world are China and the United States. These two countries produce important foods such as grains, meat, vegetables and fruit. Especially for carbohydrate sources, the countries that have been named as the main producers are China, the United States, India, Russia, and France. Meanwhile, Indonesia still has to grapple with food imports, which shows a heavy burden towards becoming a food independent country.
If every time there is a food turmoil it is only resolved with an import policy, then local resources will never be seriously exploited. Our farmers are left to fight with foreign farmers who are more efficient and get the support of subsidies and better infrastructure facilities from their country.

"Therefore, the existence of food problems at the community level must be a whip for the empowerment of our farmers so that they can be more optimal in production so that local resources are utilized properly," said Prof. Ali Khomsan, Professor of IPB Universty from the Faculty of Human Ecology (Fema ).

Food diversification is now the right momentum to be discussed so that local food can grow and dependence on rice can be reduced. Indonesia has more than 70 types of food sources of carbohydrates, but the empowerment of their culture is still lacking. Various types of tubers that used to be consumed by the public, such as taro, kimpul, gembili, arrowroot, purple sweet potato, and cassava are now increasingly rare.

"Our children, who now hold the title as the millennial generation, no longer want to look to local tubers as part of their diet. In fact, there must be a sense of pride in each family that eating local food is part of national identity and part of defending the country, "he said.

The community must be encouraged to have the ability to provide food from environmental resources around the house so that the burden of providing food does not only depend on farmers or the availability of food in the market, but also from the environment itself, among others through the use of the yard.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an important momentum for us to seriously utilize land resources around settlements for food production. The use of the yards around the house needs to be fostered by the Ministry of Agriculture continuously. Community empowerment programs whose guidance is hit and run have made the community less diligent so that their activities have stopped or stalled.

"Basic food assistance, direct cash assistance, and other assistance in the midst of COVID-19 are indeed needed, but the community must also be empowered so that they do not always expect cash assistance," he added.

It is common that diversification is often interpreted as narrowly interpreting food consumption by reducing the staple rice food and replacing it with tubers. In fact, diversification can also mean diversifying the diet so that people consume a variety of foods (rice, side dishes, vegetables, fruit) and nutritious.

In the midst of the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak which undermines household food security, the movement to grow local food around the house can be a solution to support the food needs of the community.

“My experience when I got grants from the Nestle Foundation, Switzerland to promote home gardens as part of a nutrition program, shows that there are many obstacles at the community level. Not all households in the village have a yard large enough for planting. This can be overcome by planting vegetables in polybags which do not require a large area of land. In non-agricultural areas, many people work as industrial laborers and do not have the experience to cultivate home gardens. For that, agricultural extension workers must spend more time fostering them, "he explained.

Local food cultivation at the household level can be sustainable if the community learns about hatcheries and nurseries. The essence of the movement to use local food-based yards is not to increase family income, but rather to reduce household food spending.

"Attention to home gardens deserves to be revived. Yard land can be a source of local food production in a household environment. The mention of the yard with the terms granary, life shop, living pharmacy, and life savings has a very positive meaning, "he said.

The role of the yard in supporting food and nutritional needs has been studied in various studies. In Thailand, home gardens have an effect on increasing consumption of vegetables and the use of yards can save more on family expenses or purchases. The Total Diet Study (2014) shows that more than 90 percent Indonesian people consume less vegetables and fruit.

"Because of this, Posyandu, which is at the forefront of community nutrition services, should not only focus on health problems, but must also be able to motivate participating mothers to develop local food agriculture (vegetables and tubers). Nutritional food does not have to be purchased if every household is able to manage its yard well. Local food products from yards managed by Posyandu can be used as additional food for children under five who come to the posyandu every month. Improvements in nutrition can be realized independently from the strength of local food production generated from community yards," he said. (** / Zul)


Published Date : 18-Mar-2021

Resource Person : Prof Dr Ali Khomsan

Keyword : Loka Food, Yard, IPB University, Professor of Fema