The Australian Government has dismissed Indonesian media reports saying it has pledged $100m to help Indonesia build its cattle breeding industry.
A report in an Indonesian newspaper this week said the Indonesian Government was preparing four regions to host Australian cattle farms following “Australia's pledge to invest $100 million in Indonesia’s cattle industry”.
The article said Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa had indicated that the funds would be used primarily to develop related infrastructure for the farms. The report quoted the minister as saying that Brazil had also expressed an interest to invest in Indonesia’s cattle industry, but had yet to pledge a specific amount.
“The minister said the government was eager to direct Brazilian investors to develop cattle farming in Indonesia's eastern regions so as to support economic developments in those areas,” the Jakarta Globe article said.
However in a statement supplied to Beef Central this week, Australia’s agriculture minister Joe Ludwig said Government had not pledged the reported funds.
The statement said that during the recent visit to Australia by Indonesian President Yudhoyono, commercial interests in Australia discussed the possibility of a significant investment in Indonesia’s cattle industry.
“This is a commercial decision and does not involve a direct investment by the Australian Government,” the statement said.
It added that the Australian Government has supported Indonesia through a range of projects during the past decade, including to support the growth of Indonesia’s smallholder beef sector.
In March this year the $20 million IndoBeef project was announced to build on previous capacity building projects to support these smallholder cattle producers.
DAFF also works closely with Indonesia, including a $22 million Australia Indonesia Partnership for Emerging Infectious Diseases Animal Health Program and the $10 million Improved Animal Welfare Program. DAFF is also part-funding a beef pilot project related to the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations.
Mr Ludwig said that while in Darwin last week, he and NT agriculture minister Kon Vatskalis met with the agricultural industry representatves to discuss trade with Indonesia and domestic opportunities across a number of agricultural commodities, including the live cattle trade.
“Market access issues were high on agenda, as was the call from Indonesia for domestic investment from Australian industry,” the minister said.