Food Security

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Food security was one of the most important issues to be addressed during

the 1998 Social Safety Net program that had followed in the wake of the

Crisis. There was serious concern that poor families, those most affected

by falling real incomes and rising food prices, would be unable to afford

to purchase rice, the staple foodstuff for Indonesians in most parts of the

country. As a result, a special food assistance program was designed that

was intended to deliver a quantity of medium quality rice every month to

poor and needy families at a heavily subsidized price. The situation was

compounded by the 1997–98 El Niño-related drought which had adversely

affected agricultural output and food production, especially in the eastern

regions of the archipelago.

The program was known until 2002 by its Indonesian abbreviation OPK

(Operasi Pasar Khusus or Special Market Operations).27 It was originally

planned and put into effect by offi cials from the Ministry of Food and

Horticulture working in close collaboration with the National Logistics

Agency (Bulog). Rice began to be delivered in selected parts of the country

in July 1998, gradually spreading throughout every province, district and

sub-district in the archipelago over the following months as the program was

brought up to full scale. By mid-1999, Bulog had assumed full responsibility

for the OPK program’s implementation.

When the program fi rst began, OPK aimed to deliver 10 kg of rice per

month to poor families at Rp 1000 per kg. The targeting of those families

who were to receive the assistance was based on the National Family

Planning Coordinating Board (BKKBN) classifi cation of family socioeconomic

status. The intended benefi ciaries were those families listed in

the lowest welfare category of the BKKBN classifi cation, those who were

referred to as ‘pre-prosperous families’ (keluarga pra-sejahtera or KPS).

As the government became increasingly concerned about the extent of the

social and economic impact of the Crisis, particularly with rising rice prices,

the program’s national allocation of rice was steadily increased so that ‘level

1 prosperous families’ (keluarga sejahtera 1 or KS-1) could also be included

as program benefi ciaries. From December 1998, the monthly amount that

each participating family was to receive was also increased to 20 kg at the

same subsidized price of Rp 1000 per kg.28 If this intended allocation had

indeed been achieved, it would have constituted an indirect net monthly

income transfer of approximately Rp 20 000 to Rp 30 000 per family.