The Indonesian Government says it expects the first legal imports of frozen buffalo meat from India to arrive in the country by July 20.
The Indonesian state-owned logistics agency Bulog has been tasked with managing the importation of 10,000 tons of buffalo meat from India as part of the Government’s strategy to reduce soaring beef prices and reduce the country’s reliance on Australian meat imports.
“Currently, we are in the final stages of the selection process,” Bulog spokesman Wahyu told media in Indonesia on Friday.
“We expect the frozen buffalo meat from India to arrive in Tanjung Priok Port in North Jakarta from July 20 to July 25.”
The Jakarta Post reported on Friday that Bulog is currently selecting 10 slaughterhouses located in foot and mouth disease (FMD)-free zones in India, based on recommendations by the Agriculture Ministry.
The selection process includes disease-free verification.
The Indonesian Government recently passed a regulation allowing for the importation of beef and or buffalo meat from countries with FMD-free zones, under certain terms and in conditions that include a lack of supply or an emergency situation.
India is still not recognised by the World Organisation for Animal Health as an FMD-free country, but India says it has several disease free zones.
Wahyu told Indonesian media the imported meat would be free of FMD, as the buffaloes were raised and slaughtered in disease-free zones.
“There is nothing to worry about,” he said.
Jakarta and West Java are the priority areas that will receive the Indian buffalo meat, either through distributors or government-sponsored market operations.
“Essentially, our aim is to stabilize beef prices,” he said, adding that prices were currently still being calculated.
Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (INDEF) executive director Enny Sri Hartati told the Jakarta Post it was a good step for Indonesia to diversify its imports to prevent a monopoly and to reduce dependence on Australian beef.
With diversification comes price comparison, which will result in healthy competition, she said. “Diversification is important to prevent a market monopoly, so this is a positive step for Indonesia,” Enny added.
Agriculture Ministry’s farming and animal health director Muladno Bashar said India was chosen by the ministry due to its reasonable buffalo meat prices.
Muladno said the ministry was still undecided as to whether importing buffalo meat from India would be a long-term policy. “We’ll see how this plays out first, then we’ll decide,” Muladno said.
Trade Minister Thomas Lembong said buffalo meat was a good alternative to beef for Indonesian dishes such as rendang (meat simmered in coconut milk and spices). Other dishes that traditionally use buffalo meet include soto Kudus (a type of soup) and semur Betawi (a stew).
India has an oversupply of buffalo meat, thus Indonesia can import reasonably priced supplies from there, Thomas said. Buffalo meat is not widely consumed in Indonesia, except for some areas such as Pekalongan and Kudus in Central Java.
“There are a lot of doubt among consumers as many have not yet tried buffalo meat. However, I’m sure we can get used to it if we try; countries like Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines consume buffalo meat,” the minister said.