Stunting in Indonesia affected 30.8% of children under five years old – almost eight million
children in 2018. This makes it a highly troubling issue. The government has designed several
central and local government program interventions to reduce stunting. Some programs aim to
create awareness of best practices for feeding children and improving sanitation facilities. While
these interventions increase the availability and improve the use of food, these programs do not
adequately address the inaccessibility of food in Indonesia, which is the result of high consumer
prices for basic food commodities.
While Indonesia managed to improve its ranking in the Global Food Security Index, moving from
76th place in 2015 to 65th in 2018, Indonesia still scores below the global average on several
indicators, including protein quality, micronutrient availability, sufficiency of food supply, and
food consumption as a share of household income.
This paper finds a significant correlation between food prices and the incidence of stunting. In
order to secure sustainable access to nutritious foods, trade policies that cause higher food
prices need to be reviewed because they undermine the effectiveness of the government’s
efforts to reduce stunting.
First, MOT Regulation 1/2018 Article 16(1) needs to be revised. This regulation grants BULOG a
monopoly on rice imports. Allowing other firms to compete with BULOG will make the rice market
more efficient and rice prices will decrease. Second, MOT should remove the ban on imported,
cheaper beef to enter traditional markets, as stipulated in MOT 59/2016 Article 19. The same
regulation on Article 9 limits beef imports to state-owned enterprises, increasing bureaucratic
procedures and further reducing access to beef, and so should also be reviewed. The Directorate
General of Livestock and Animal Health Services of the Ministry of Agriculture should extend
its technical supervision of the safety of imported fresh food items to include private importers.
Third, MOT Regulation 21/2018 Articles 3(1) and 3(2), which regulate maize imports, should be
removed as they result in higher maize prices and consequently in higher production costs for
the poultry industry, which in turn leads to higher prices for chicken meat and eggs.