Building Food Security in the Pandemic Era

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In the Covid-19 pandemic era, the disruption faced by farmers has become more intense, this cause the food supply chain to experience serious disruptions. Ironically, some agricultural commodity prices have actually decreased due to falling demand.

Reduced community activities leads to decreased demand for foodstuffs. There are so many culinary sectors that do not run their business so that the demand for agricultural commodities has dropped dramatically.

The decline in agricultural commodities will certainly have a negative impact on the welfare of farmers. When agricultural production continues, while demand in the market falls, there will be an over supply so that commodity prices will fall. The drop in prices will make farmers reduce their production due to losses. If this is not resolved immediately, then when the pandemic reaches an end point there will be food shortages because farmers continue to reduce their production.

The drop in food commodity prices has occurred in several regions, such as in Central Java Province. Central Java, which has the potential in agriculture, was also affected by the Covid-19 outbreak. Several food commodities that experienced a decline included chilies, vegetables and fruits.

Various Factors

For chilies, the decline has started to occur since a few months ago. In the past week, chili commodities have tended to decline, especially for green bird’s eye chilies and large red chilies.

Food commodities fell because of PSBB which is made the distribution of food commodities to be hampered so that many commodities were damaged and their prices fell. In addition, the decline in people’s purchasing power due to widespread layoffs has also contributed to a decrease in the absorption of agricultural products.

Furthermore, during this pandemic, many entrepreneurs were unable to run their businesses. Reduced community activities such as celebrations, associations, and other activities that normally require large consumption are no longer there, so the demand for foodstuffs decreases. In fact, many culinary businesses have closed, so there is an over supply during the big harvest.

Then, how are farmers prepared for food security after the Covid-19 pandemic?

We must be optimistic that farmers are able to provide food needs for this country. Indonesian farmers are modest farmers because they will continue to carry out their agricultural activities even though they do not know the certainty of commodity prices at harvest time. Farmers are food heroes for this nation whose welfare must be considered. Farmers’ readiness needs to be supported by various policies.

“Must be optimistic that farmers are able to provide food for this country”.

What are the policies needed to support farmer preparedness? One way is to maintain the smooth distribution of foodstuffs. The government must ensure the smooth distribution of foodstuffs to all regions even though the PSBB is being carried out, it is necessary to re-map commodity stocks in each region in order to map the direction of food distribution nationally.

Mapping can be done starting at the district / city level and what commodities are produced as well as calculating the food needs of each resident in the area. Mapping of areas that become production pockets needs to be reviewed and their role optimized to meet the availability of foodstuffs for food-insecure areas.

What are the policies needed to support the preparedness of the farmers? Market adaptation is one way that needs to be taken.

Farmers need to adjust to the situation in the middle of this pandemic, especially market conditions. Some commodities that may have reduced demand need to be replaced with commodities with better market prospects. For example, hydroponic farmers of various lettuce, whose market segments at first are hotels, restaurants and malls, which are currently having less prospects, can switch to kangkung or mustard farmers whose markets are still good because the market segment is all people.

The stability of agricultural commodity prices needs to be maintained so that commodity prices do not drop too much so that farmers are still willing to produce food, the government can cooperate with several cooperatives and The establishment of Institutional village enterprises (BUM-Des) to help farmers sell their products so that farmers do not experience marketing problems. Farmers ‘cooperatives in villages can also provide capital for farmers because the condition of farmers’ capital in the midst of a pandemic is very weak.

Online agricultural commodity marketing platforms can be used to assist farmers in marketing their crops. Ease of access for farmers to production factors such as fertilizers, seeds and irrigation channels must be guaranteed, Management of emergency food reserves. In the midst of the current Covid-19 emergency, actually foodstuffs must be available in good quantity and quality at affordable prices.

The Role of Cooperatives and Farmer Groups

Through farmer cooperatives, they can improve their bargaining position both in marketing their products and in procuring the required production inputs, in the event that market mechanisms do not guarantee justice, cooperatives can seek to open new markets for their members’ products, on the other hand, cooperatives can provide access to their members. For various uses of production factors and services that are not offered by the market, by joining a cooperative, farmers can more easily adjust their production through post-harvest processing in relation to changes in market demand.

In this case, the role of academics in higher education can support innovation in post-harvest processing, by pooling farmer resources in a cooperative, farmers are easier to deal with the risks inherent in agricultural production, such as: climate influence, heterogeneity in production quality and distribution of production areas. a cooperative organization forum, it is easier for farmers to interact positively in the learning process to improve the quality of their human resources.

In order to realize a food security system, agribusiness cooperatives need to revitalize their roles and functions. As for the steps that must be taken by agribusiness cooperatives so that food security can be achieved, among others: Undertaking internal revitalization and consolidation, currently public trust in cooperatives is decreasing, along with inconsistent government policies towards cooperatives and due to weaknesses in cooperative management itself. Cooperatives need to carry out internal consolidation to improve better corporate governance.

In order to realize a food security system, agribusiness cooperatives need to revitalize their roles and functions. The steps that must be taken by agribusiness cooperatives to achieve food security include: being actively involved in agricultural revitalization. Agribusiness cooperatives need to improve their capabilities in the field of effective and productive farming technology in order to transfer knowledge to members and society. Creating the right financing scheme for the agricultural sector.

The agricultural sector (agribusiness) has different characteristics from other sectors such as trade, services and industry. So agribusiness cooperatives must have the ability to design suitable products and schemes to increase the production of their members, because this sector is usually highly influenced by seasons and high price fluctuations. Cooperatives can also become advisors and agents for managing government grants so that these funds can be productive. Not dependent on government grants.

If in the past, cooperatives engaged in agribusiness, especially village unit cooperatives (KUD), were very dependent on government grants, then now is not the time. Cooperatives must be independent by exploring the potential in the area where they live and empowering members properly. Exploring the potential of agribusiness that is in accordance with the location of the cooperative, existing cooperatives in an area need to explore and utilize the potential that exists in the area to become a superior product. Thus, the cooperative’s performance will be more effective and efficient.

In addition, by utilizing the existing potential, local farmers will be more prosperous because the commodities they plant can be utilized optimally. The utilization of this existing potential can also support the mapping of areas that are the pockets of production of certain commodities.

Prof. Dr. Sucihatiningsih DWP, professor of agricultural economics, Faculty of Economics

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