Food Security Challenges in Rapidly Urbanizing Developing Countries: Insight from Indonesia

Urbanization has become a global phenomenon that affects the food system. Some studies revealed that urbanization increases income/capita, thus transforming food consumption from cereals to animal products, vegetables, and fruits. Urbanization, particularly in developing countries, not only produces economic benefits but also various issues that might lessen peoples’ capacity to afford food. This study aims to analyze the impact of urbanization on food consumption, food composition, as well as farming performance. Series of consumption data since 1976 and statistical descriptive approaches were employed. The results showed a trend of declining the share of food expenditures, especially in urban areas, which is commonly regarded as a sign of increasing prosperity. Surprisingly, food composition remained stable, dominated by rice, due to lower-income and higher non-food expenditures of urban inhabitants mainly for housing, transportation, water and energy. The stagnancy of food composition provides less incentive for farmers; thus, farming is dominated by low-revenue paddy fields, uneducated laborers, and older farmers. Based on these findings, some recommendations can be suggested: (1) incorporating food composition and farming performance into food security policies, instead of merely focusing on the compliance of food supply and demand, (2) linking food issues with non-food issues, especially with urban planning, housing development, and transportation management to increase the income capacity of the society to purchase a greater variety of food, and (3) developing food diversification served by urban food vendors to support the benefits of the farming business.

Author: by Andi Syah Putra, Guangji Tong, and Didit Okta Pribadi

Keywords: food security, urbanization, food expenditures, food composition, farming performance, developing countries


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