Indonesia’s Quest for Food Self-sufficiency: A New Agricultural Political Economy?

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The aspiration to achieve food self-sufficiency has returned to the Indonesian policy agenda in the post-reformasi period. After being side-lined as a policy goal immediately after the transition to democracy, political leaders since 2009 have increasingly cited self-sufficiency to justify policies to raise domestic food production and reduce food imports. These policies are often inefficient and at odds with the goals of food security and decreasing poverty. The self-sufficiency drive is thus often attributed to ‘political’ motives. But what kind of politics is at work in Indonesia’s renewed self-sufficiency drive: a broad-based politics that aims to foster support among smallholder food producers, or an elite politics based on rent-seeking by narrow constituencies? The distributional implications of food self-sufficiency policies in the post-reformasi period suggest that both dynamics are at work. Narrow elite interests have benefited, but smallholder landowners account for a significant share of many agricultural crops. Although smallholder landowners are increasingly differentiated, they constitute a reasonably broad-based constituency. The valorisation of agriculture reflected in the self-sufficiency drive and related rural sector policies may lay the foundations for a more inclusive agricultural political economy.




Hamilton-Hart, N. (2019). Indonesia’s Quest for Food Self-sufficiency: A New Agricultural Political Economy? Journal of Contemporary Asia, 49(5), 734–758.

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