The Indian embassy in Jakarta has hit back at news reports suggesting Indonesia has temporarily halted imports of Indian buffalo meat due to COVID concerns, describing the reports as ‘false propaganda’ of India’s competitors who are threatened by the ever increasing success of Indian Buffalo meat.
Late last week an international news wire reported that the chief executive of Indonesia’s food procurement agency Bulog informed Indonesia’s parliament that it was suspending buffalo meat imports.
“Due to the lockdown… plus the development of the COVID-19 virus in India… we temporarily stopped the (buffalo meat) import plan,” chief executive Budi Waseso was reported to said.
The Embassy of India in Jakarta has issued a press release in response saying that during the ongoing pandemic, “exports of agro products are happening unhindered” and India is exporting bovine meat uninterruptedly to more than 70 countries, “including Indonesia without any issues”.
“On the strength of a world class meat processing infrastructure, certified for Quality Management, Food Safety Management and Environment Management Systems, India is one of the world’s leading exporter of buffalo meat,” the press release states.
“Despite Covid -19 pandemic last year and this year, India has been able to achieve exports valued at USD 3.17 billion in the year April 2020-March 21 which is at the previous year’s level of exports (2019-20).
It said the top Indian buffalo meat importing countries are Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Philippines, UAE.
“The Buffalo meat is prepared and exported in accordance with World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines for any risk mitigation.
“Only boneless buffalo meat is allowed for export from India which is safe and risk free. At the same time, the affordably priced buffalo meat is contributing towards food security and food price inflation control in the importing countries including Indonesia.
“As is well known by now, Covid -19 is a respiratory disease and the primary transmission route is through person to person contact. International organizations such as OIE, WHO and FAO have therefore issued guidelines which categorically mention that it is highly unlikely that people can contact Covid -19 from food or food packaging.
“According to the guidelines of these International organizations, Indian meat processing establishments are following physical distancing, stringent hygiene and sanitation measures and regular training is given to staff and workers on food safety practices.”
“There have also been several interventions by the Government of India to control and eradicate various livestock diseases where all vaccinated animals are ear tagged and a complete traceability is maintained.
“In addition, the Govt. of India has also been implementing several schemes for prevention, control and containment of Livestock diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease. India’s official FMD Control Programme has received OIE’s endorsement as per the provisions of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code.
“Hence all importing countries can safely import Indian origin frozen boneless Buffalo meat.”
The Embassy said buffalo meat exports from India are going on smoothly with no hurdles in the supply chain.
“The Embassy has noticed that some competitors have been spreading all sorts of rumours following the news report of suspension of frozen boneless buffalo meat by Indonesia with ulterior motive of defaming safe, risk free Indian Buffalo meat with the aim to impact its export to other countries.
“It may please be noted that this is false propaganda of some of IndiIndia’s competitors as they are threatened by the ever increasing success of Indian Buffalo meat.”
There has been no formal statement from Indonesia as to whether it is or is not formally suspending imports following the statements reportedly made in Parliament last week.
However people with close knowledge of the Indonesian meat market have said it is apparent there is less Indian Buffalo Meat in the market and less currently coming into Indonesia.
Reuters reported that Indonesia has imported 13,000 tonnes of water buffalo meat so far this year.
That compares to a total volume of permits issued by Indonesia this year for 100,000 tonnes of Brazilian beef and water buffalo meat from India for this year.