YOGYAKARTA – National food policy taken by the government is currently considered as not providing protection for the farmers. Current policies also do not realize the security and national food self-sufficiency, but more towards the political imagery in the presence of duty-free policy of imported foods. This emerged in the Seminar on Politics of Food for Agricultural and Rural Development, which was held at UGM Center for Rural and Regional Studies, Tuesday (12/4). Seminar to celebrate the 38th anniversary of the Center presented UGM agricultural economist, Prof. Dr. Moch. Maksum Machfoedz, food researcher, Dr. Eni Harmayani, M.Sc., and Prof. Dr. dr. Sutaryo, Sp.A (K) as the moderator.
Maksum assessed government policy is not very intelligent and tends to be short termed to make cheap food policy and duty-free imported foods. "There are controversial and counterproductive policies, for example, the President had requested the food self-sufficiency program, however, the policy taken is applying duty-free imported foods," Maksum said.
In addition, the government does not protect domestic agricultural products. This is different from what carried out by the Government of China that provides pro-people agricultural policy. "For poultry business alone, feed is protected in other countries, even it is given free of charge to protect farmers," he added.
Industrialization policy which is not pro-agriculture, according to Maksum, causes almost nine national food commodities are imported. It is mentioned that the commodity of wheat and flour are still 100% imported, garlic 90%, milk 70%, beef 36%, chicks 100%, soybeans 65%, sugar 40%, corn 10%, and salt 70%.
Seeing the condition, Maksum is pessimistic that the target of self-sufficiency of several food commodities proclaimed by the government will be achieved. "Beef self-sufficiency program was launched five times. Everything has not been successful," he said. Maksum also believed that it is time for the government to issue a national food policy that is pro-agriculture by providing protection to farmers, ranging from the selling price, seed, feed, agro-industry policy which protects farmers.
Meanwhile, Eni Harmayani said the dependence on wheat and rice products currently among the community is very vulnerable. Therefore, diversification policy of local food needs to be implemented. The absence of policy that is pro-local food, lack of knowledge and less nutritious food consumption have caused people to less appreciate local foods. "There are people who still think that local food is inferior," she said.
According to Eni, the potential of local food in each region is quite diverse. From the results of her research, several types of local food in Yogyakarta are potential to be developed including tubers, such as cassava, arrowroot, sweet potato and canna. "Yogyakarta people still use, consume, and cultivate 10 kinds of tubers perfunctorily, except for cassava and sweet potato," she explained.
The teaching staff of Faculty of Agricultural Technology UGM explained that local tubers have the potential to be developed as functional foods in order to reduce dependence on imported food. Local food is even better potential than the imported one because it has a higher biological compatibility with human and local microorganism of Indonesia.