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Understanding the Choice is the Key to Food Sovereignty

By: Teguh Iman Affandi

During the war, food prices soared. The issue of food sovereignty has also emerged in the conversation of the Indonesian people.

“Conceptually, sovereignty is more fitting to be placed in the context of the state,” said Yusuf Marguantara, founder of Martani Indonesia.

He further explained that one of the elements of sovereignty is independence. “Martani wants to contribute to the practice of food self-sufficiency,” said Yusuf.

Yusuf Maguantara with Rita Mustikasari, member of Kaoem Telapak,
together they develop Martani Indonesia

Martani Indonesia was founded by Yusuf and Rita Mustikasari, a member of Kaoem Telapak, when he was active in the Coalition for Food Sovereignty (KKRP – ed). Martani is the mandate of the KKRP. Hence, Martani aspires to realize sovereignty over food. Martani encourages strengthening the pillars of food sovereignty; fair trade, sustainable agriculture, healthy food consumption, and agrarian reform.

Furthermore, Yusuf defines food sovereignty as the capability of a state to fulfil the food needs of its people. The ability includes choosing where the food source comes from, either imported or produced. “In terms of choosing, the state is sovereign,” said Yusuf. If the state imports food only to obtain foreign debt, for Yusuf, it is a sign that the state does not have sovereignty.

According to Yusuf, people will achieve food independence when they have the knowledge and ability to process food. Therefore, Yusuf emphasized that Martani’s mission is not just trading. Martani also empowers the consumers to understand. “For example is wheat flour. The flour is imported. If our food continues to be flour, then we are not sovereign, because we continue to import,” said Yusuf.

The Central Bureau of Statistics of Indonesia noted that in 2021, Indonesia imported 31.34 thousand tons of wheat flour, with a value of 11.81 million US dollars. Indonesia buys the most wheat from India, amounting to 19.9 thousand tons. When the war between Russia and Ukraine raged, India stopped its wheat exports. India wants its food production for its domestic needs.

Yusuf wants to invite other people to understand the situation. Then Igniting people to look for alternatives to the imported materials. “Are there any ingredients we have that are not wheat flour?” asked Yusuf.

Mocaf flour produced by Martani Indonesia

On that basis, Martani developed cassava into mocaf flour. Mocaf flour can be used as the main material for making pastries, seasoning flour, and snacks. This product can also be used as a substitute for wheat flour. Mokaf flour does not contain gluten, so it is safe for consumption by people with autism and celiac disease (autoimmune).

Yusuf said it was necessary to provide alternative products so that there would be public understanding, either an understanding of taking sides with farmers or for health reasons. “When people understand, they have a reason to buy or not, the price is included in the understanding process.”

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