Rice is Indonesia’s most important staple food, with consumption estimated at more than 100 kilograms per person per year, in a country of 270 million people. Although rice consumption is in long term decline, a common saying in Indonesia nevertheless holds, “if you haven’t eaten rice, you haven’t eaten”. 

How to provide such an immense quantity of rice to the population – whether through imports or domestic production – is a perennially thorny question in Indonesia, and one tightly bound with the country’s domestic politics. For decades, successive Indonesian governments have set rice self-sufficiency as their goal, albeit a goal that has been devilishly difficult to achieve. 

In this week’s Talking Indonesia podcast, the first for 2019, Dr Dave McRae discusses these issues with Associate Professor Jamie Davidson, from the Department of Political Science at the National University of Singapore, whose current research compares the politics of rice policy in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia. 

The Talking Indonesia podcast is co-hosted by Dr Dave McRae from the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute, Dr Jemma Purdey from Monash University, Dr Charlotte Setijadi from the Singapore Management University and Dr Dirk Tomsa from La Trobe University.

Look out for a new Talking Indonesia podcast every fortnight. Catch up on previous episodes here, subscribe via iTunes or listen via your favourite podcasting app.


Photo by Setkab.


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