Julia Gillard: (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)
Inviting Australia to establish livestock farms in Indonesia would help the country meet its demand for beef, an executive of the Association of Indonesian Retail Businesses (Aprindo) said on Monday.
“Beef stocks in Indonesia are very limited. The government has curtailed beef imports and local farmers cannot provide a stable supply,” Aprindo vice secretary-general Satria Hamid Ahmadi said.
Ahmadi hoped that the President would make a serious attempt to secure Australian investment.
Before departing for Darwin on Monday morning, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said that he would invite Australia to invest in the husbandry sector, in an effort to cut beef imports and boost local production. Yudhoyono is expected to discuss the matter with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Ahmadi said that given Australia’s professionalism in the breeding and slaughtering of cattle, Australian cattle farms would increase beef quality in the market.
Australian farms would be expected to use local stock rather than Australian to support local breeders. “For retailers, quality is the only issue. But for the sake of local farmers, local stock would provide the majority of herds,” Ahmadi said.
Aprindo members, comprising 24 hypermarket and supermarket companies, require 12,700 tons of beef this year. Currently, 70 percent is imported.
Indonesian Meat Importers Association (Aspidi) executive director Thomas Sembiring said that Australian investment would not hurt the meat importation business, given the high demand in the domestic market.
“If Australia invests here, the biggest challenge will be to find the right site, given the limited space in Java,” he said on Monday.
The government has been trying to scale back beef and cattle imports in a bid to achieve self-sufficiency by 2014. This year, the import quota was set at 84,000 tons of meat, about half of last year’s quota. Around 40 percent of imported beef and cattle comes from Australia.
In June of last year, Australia imposed a livestock export ban on Indonesia after the Australian Broadcasting Corporation aired a video showing Indonesian workers allegedly slaughtering a cow in a manner perceived as cruel. The video was later found to be staged. A month later, Australia lifted the ban following pressure from Australian farmers as the ban hurt Australia more than it did Indonesia.
Australia annually exports around 500,000 head of cattle to Indonesia, valued at about US$340 million and representing 60 percent of its live-cattle trade. (yps)