RI needs long-term policy to cope with beef shortage
Grace D. Amianti
The Jakarta Post
Businesspeople involved in the production and sale of meat have asked the government to cope with the meat shortage.
Joni Liano, executive director for the Indonesian Beef Producer and Lot Feeder Association (Apfindo), said his group ' which includes owners of slaughterhouses ' supported the government's latest decision to open imports of cattle, although he said the plan would only be effective for the short term.
In the long term, Joni said the government should provide better management in the importation of live cattle so that local farmers would have enough feeders to sustain local stocks and develop the industry to reach self-sufficiency.
'Local lot feeders and beef producers have invested a lot in the last 20 years and we will continue discussion with the government in creating better policy. An improvement in cattle import policy will create big multiplier effects,' Joni told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Beef sellers and butchers in the Greater Jakarta area and Bandung, West Java, launched a strike on Monday in protest of soaring prices due to the government's decision to reduce beef imports.
The strike forced the government on Monday evening to issue permits to import another 50,000 cattle through the State Logistic Agency (Bulog) to curb the rising prices. Coordinating Economic Minister Sofyan Djalil did not say where the cattle would come from, but most of Indonesia's beef is shipped from Australia.
Last month, the government limited the quota for cattle imports from Australia at 50,000 from July to September, an 80 percent reduction from the previous three months as the country aims for self-sufficiency in beef supplies.
The decision to limit imports triggered a sharp increase in beef prices, with prices as high as Rp 130,000 (US$10) per kilogram in some areas, up from an average Rp 90,000 a kilogram previously. The higher prices sparked public anger and prompted Indonesian butchers to begin a four-day strike since last weekend.
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo has voiced his concern that there was an alleged move by 'beef mafia' to intentionally reduce the supply of beef in the market to push up prices. The mafia hoped that the soaring prices would incite public protest, which would in turn pressure the government to increase import quotas.
However, Joni said the allegation was likely untrue as a halt in beef deliveries would increase costs for butchers amid a shortage of cattle supply in slaughterhouses.
'The strike began because there was no supply, not because we intentionally held the supply. Our members [of Apfindo] have decided to stop our strike on Thursday,' Joni said.
Juan Permana Adoe, head of farming and agribusiness at the Indonesian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), said his business group was in continuous discussion with the government to seek a more effective method to improve the local cattle farming industry.
'The government's vision is to build self-sufficiency in beef supplies, which can be combined between managing locally bred and imported cattle. I'm sure that the vision can be achieved if the government backs up industry players,' Juan told the Post.
Despite the government's short-term import decision, Bulog director of procurement Wahyu said the agency was ready to support nationwide beef supplies for the long term as it had prepared its farms, slaughterhouses and distribution channels across the country.
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