Indonesia’s Trade Ministry has announced an increased beef import quota of 27,400 tonnes, far above the Agriculture Ministry’s recommendation of 10,000 tons, to curb rising prices in local markets.
The Jakarta Post said today the ramp up in supply is a direct response to President Joko Widodo’s instruction to reduce beef prices from Rp 110,000 (A$11) to 80,000 (A$8) per kilogram ahead of Ramadan, which will start next week.
Reflecting Indonesia’s desire to increase beef supply in the approach to Ramadan, export figures released today show that Australian beef exports shot up to possible record level of 10,446t in May.
Prior to that, Australian beef exports to Indonesia had averaged about 4000 tonnes per month in the first four months of 2016.
The beef to fill the additional quota will be sourced from various countries, Trade Minister Thomas Lembong said, according to the Jakarta Post.
He refused to mention the countries but said that Indonesia “wanted to diversify beef-import sources from places other than Australia”.
Ramadhan and Idul Fitri are two major Islamic religious events in Indonesia during which demand for staple foods and other products usually soar.
To maintain reasonable prices at the consumer level and improve farmers’ welfare, the government has set minimum farmers’ selling prices. Onions have been set at Rp 15,000 per kg, medium-quality rice at Rp 7,300, and sugar at Rp 9,100.
The government has asked two state-owned companies, PT Perkebunan Nusantara and PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia, to import 381,000 tons of raw sugar to be processed into refined sugar.
In a joint press briefing with Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman and the trade minister, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno said the government expected to see food prices decrease by the end of the first week of Ramadan.
“We are committed to maintaining the stability of staple food supplies and prices, especially onion, rice, sugar and beef during Ramadhan,” she said.
Mr Lembong said the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) would receive an import quota for 10,000 tonnes of beef, state-owned firm Berdikari 5,000 tonnes, Jakarta administration-owned firm Darmajaya 500 tonnes, with the remainder for private importers.
Indonesia still appears to be working to legalise the import of frozen buffalo meat from India, where foot and mouth disease is endemic, as a further source of supply
Another recent Indonesian media article said the country has approved 12 abattoirs in India to supply buffalo meat to Indonesia, but there has been no official announcement as to when the imports will commence.