Out of a population of more than 250 million, 28 million Indonesians still live below the poverty line. Their incomes are not enough to buy sufficient food. They are malnourished and their children stunted. An additional 68 million Indonesians have just 50% more income than the poor. They are extremely vulnerable to food price increases because they spend half of their incomes on food. 1.1 million fell below the poverty threshold when rice prices increased by 9.5% in 2015. Over one million Indonesians would escape poverty, almost immediately, if the country embraced free trade in food. Social returns from such a policy change may be as much as 6 billion USD annually. The Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) believes there is strong possibility that a relatively modest investment of 217,000 USD could catalyze these enormous benefits, which will flow to poor and vulnerable populations. This proposal explains CIPS plans for a research-based advocacy campaign, modeled after the work of the Templeton Freedom Award-winning, Taxpayers Alliance (UK). Our plans include policy analyses and proposals, press articles and op-eds, videos, cartoons, and coalition-building efforts. CIPS will also create digital teaching modules and essay competitions for university students so there will be multiple channels influencing opinion leaders to reconsider the status quo and move Indonesia toward free trade in food. The ultimate objective of the CIPS campaign is that the Indonesian President Widodo drops the harmful food self-sufficiency policy from his re-election campaign 2019. Before being elected in 2014 he had promised to abandon the costly fuel subsidy policy because the public had finally understood this policy does not benefit the poor. As president he actually cut the subsidies. The CIPS campaign aims to inspire a similar demonstration of presidential leadership during his re-election campaign in 2019.
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