Food Security and Human Rights

Food Security and Human Rights
Writer :
Rusman Widodo
Editor :
Intan Qonita N
Translator :
Intan Qonita N

The Corona Virus Disease-2019 (Covid-19) pandemic which first appeared in the Wuhan Market, an animal and seafood market in Wuhan City, China, at the end of 2019 then entered Indonesia as of March 1, 2020, has had a serious impact on Indonesian people, especially related to food.

Douglas L. O'Brien, vice president of programs at The Global FoodBanking Network, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a significant increase in food demand. Today, Douglas says one in four people face food shortages. Around 690 million people are now facing chronic hunger and there may be more than 130 million people according to Douglas when he was a speaker at the "Foodcycle World Food Day 2020" webinar on October 9, 2020, as written by

In Indonesia, there are around 107 million people who are at risk of being affected by the economic impact of Covid-19. Moreover, there is an increase in people affected by layoffs among formal and informal workers. Douglas said this had an impact on purchasing power, increasing food problems, and malnutrition in the medium to long term. Others, in various regions in Indonesia, there have been cases of food theft due to hunger. Some of the cases are:

1. Case of Palm Oil Bunch Theft in Rokan Hulu, Riau

Rica (31), a resident of Tanding Barat Village, Tandun Sub-district, Rokan Hulu, Riau, a mother of three children who was policed ​​for stealing three palm oil bunches worth IDR76,000 in order to buy rice belonging to PTPN V Pekanbaru in Rokan Hulu. The jobless woman did this because she felt frantic when she saw her children crying with hunger. Meanwhile, rice in the kitchen is no longer available. Rica admitted that she was forced to do so that her three children who were still under 5 years old did not starve.

2. The Papaya Fruit Theft Case in Jember, East Java.

Alma, a 65-year-old grandmother, living in Cangkring Village, Jenggawah District, Jember Regency, East Java, stole three unripe papayas owned by her neighbor, Bawon, so that she can make a dish. Grandma Alma was reported to the Jember Sector Police, East Java. This case ended peacefully because Grandma Alma stole to survive: she was starving and Bawon was willing to forgive Grandma Alma's actions.

3. Rice Theft Case in Medan, North Sumatra

A man named Atek (40 years old), a resident of Jalan Mawar Gang Banteng, Sari Rejo Village, Medan Polonia, was arrested by residents while taking 1 burlap of 5 kg rice from a stall on Jalan Cinta Karya Lingkungan 6, Sari Rejo Village, Medan Polonia. Atek was beaten by residents. He admitted that he was starving to the point of committing theft. Atek was reported to the police. When questioned, he admitted that he was very hungry and there was nothing to cook for him to eat.

Atek lives alone in his house. His wife chose to leave him and went to her parents' house on Jalan Perjuangan, Sari Rejo. His three children were brought along by his wife. Actually Atek received rice assistance. But all have been given to feed his wife and children. He admitted to stealing because he had no money to buy food. This case ended peacefully because the victim was willing to forgive Atek. The police donated rice and money to Atek.

Is there a shortage of rice or food in Indonesia so that some people are forced to commit theft? Indonesia turns out to have rice that is sufficient and even abundant in some areas. President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, that rice self-sufficiency will soon be achieved. Because he said, Indonesia has not imported rice for 3 years.

Why is the country's food supply sufficient but there are still many hungry people? It is possible to happen because some people do not have the ability to access existing food supplies. Accessibility is one of the 4 factors that must exist in order for a country to truly have food security.

The definition of food security, according to Law no. 18/2012 concerning Food is "The condition of fulfilling food for the state to individuals, which is reflected in the availability of sufficient food, both in quantity and quality, safe, diverse, nutritious, evenly distributed, and affordable and does not conflict with the religion, beliefs and culture of the community, to be able to live a healthy, active and productive life in a sustainable manner”.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organizations (FAO), food security is a condition in which everyone at all times, both physically and economically, has access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their daily nutritional needs according to their preferences.

Based on these two definitions of food security, food security includes four important factors.

First, food availability relates to food supply through production, distribution, and exchange. Production of agricultural crops is not an absolute necessity for a country to achieve food security. Japan and Singapore are examples of how a country that does not have natural resources to produce food but is able to achieve food security.

Food distribution involves the storage, processing, transportation, packaging and marketing of foodstuffs. Supply chain infrastructure and food storage technology can also affect the amount of food lost during distribution. Inadequate transportation infrastructure can lead to price increases to global markets. Food production per capita in the world has exceeded consumption per capita, but in many places food insecurity is still found because the distribution of food has become a major barrier to achieving food security.

Second, access to food refers to the ability to buy and the size of the allocation of food, as well as the taste factor of an individual and household. The United Nations states that the cause of hunger and malnutrition is often not due to food scarcity but the inability to access food due to poverty. Poverty limits access to food and also increases the vulnerability of an individual or household to rising food prices.

There are two differences regarding access to food. (1) Direct access, ie households produce their own food, (2) economic access, ie households buy food produced elsewhere. Location can affect access to food and the type of access used in the household. However, the ability to access foodstuffs does not always cause someone to buy these foodstuffs because there are factors of taste and culture.

Third, when food is obtained, various factors affect the amount and quality of food that is reached by family members. Food that is eaten must be safe and meet the physiological needs of an individual. Food safety affects the use of food and can be affected by the way it is prepared, processed, and the ability to cook in a community or household.

Finally, food stability refers to the ability of an individual to obtain food over a certain period of time. Food insecurity can be transitional, seasonal, or chronic (permanent). In transitional food security, food may not be available for a certain period of time. Natural disasters and droughts can cause crop failure and affect food availability at the production level. Civil conflict can also affect access to food.

Instability in the market leads to an increase in food prices which also causes food insecurity. Other factors include loss of labor or productivity caused by disease outbreaks.

The four factors must be able to be realized by the government so that the Indonesian state really has food security. If food security can be realized, the state's obligation to fulfill the right to food of its people can be implemented properly. The right to food is a human right that is the duty of the government to realize it. The right to food has been mandated in a number of regulations, namely:

I.In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) Article 25 paragraphs 1 and 2, namely:

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including the right to food, clothing, housing and health care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, illness, disability, widow/widower, reaching old age or other circumstances that result in a lack of livelihood, which is beyond his control.

(2) Mothers and children have the right to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, must receive the same social protection.

II. In the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 11 paragraph 1, 2, namely:

The States Parties to this Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing and the continuous improvement of living conditions. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure the realization of this right, bearing in mind the most important effect of international cooperation on the basis of free consent.

2. The States Parties to the Covenant, recognizing the essential right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take the necessary measures, individually and through international co-operation, including specific programmes, that:

a) Improve methods of food production, conservation and distribution and make full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of nutritional science principles and by developing or updating agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve development that makes the most efficient use of natural resources.

b) By addressing the problems of countries importing and exporting food, endeavor to ensure a fair distribution of the world's necessary supply of food.

III. In the 1945 Constitution of the 1st to 4th amendments, Article 27 paragraph 2, namely:

(2) Every citizen has the right to work and a decent living for humanity.

IV.In Law Number 39 of 1999 concerning Human Rights, Article 40, namely:

Everyone has the right to live and have a decent life.

V. In Law Number 18 of 2012 concerning Food which regulates, among others, general provisions, principles, food production, food reserves, food information systems and others.

The right to food is a right that cannot be reduced under any circumstances, therefore the state must prioritize its fulfillment by using all its resources. To ensure the fulfillment of the right to food, the state is obliged to realize national food security.
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