News / Asia

    Indonesians Struggle with Rising Meat Prices

    A woman buys meat at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Today, a kilogram of beef can cost more than $13.
    A woman buys meat at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Aug. 17, 2012. Today, a kilogram of beef can cost more than $13.
    Kate Lamb
    Rising prices and corruption continue to plague Indonesia’s national goal to become self-sufficient in regards to producing staple foods.

    The controversy over beef prices reached a new level in recent weeks when it was discovered that Bakso sellers, who serve a popular meatball soup, were mixing pork into the supposedly pure beef dish.

    The news sparked a media scandal in the Muslim-majority country where pork is haram, or forbidden, for many.

    Bakso sellers, usually street vendors with food carts, have been forced to cut costs, and corners, as beef prices skyrocket.

    The price of beef doubled after Indonesia's president slashed the beef import quota by almost two-thirds last year. The government plans more cuts in imports later this year.

    Thomas Sembiring, executive director of the Indonesian Meat Importers Association, says the main problem is the agriculture minister’s resolve to achieve self-sufficiency in key commodities such as rice, beef, sugar, soybean and corn, by 2014.

    “The minister is too obsessed with self-sufficiency," Sembiring says. "Even the price of meat, the most expensive meat is now in Indonesia. You know what the minister recommends? If you cannot afford to buy meat, don’t eat meat.”

    Sembiring says the government is denying market realities and its self-sufficiency dream is blinding it to the fact that many people now cannot afford to eat beef.

    The rising prices have also led to scandals as some officials try to profit off the situation.

    The latest fiasco involves the head of a conservative Islamic party who was arrested last week for allegedly accepting bribes from a beef importer.

    These days, a kilogram of beef costs more than $13. This year, the government plans to further cut imports by 30 percent for cattle and six percent for beef, even as consumption rises 13 percent.

    The government is defending its self-sufficiency target on the grounds of food security, but it is unclear whether domestic producers will be able to make up for the falling imports.

    “There are two issues here," economist Fauzi Ichsan says. "Firstly, by imposing import tariffs on these commodities, then you risk higher inflation domestically. So there is an inflationary impact. Secondly, it is yet to be seen whether such policies would induce self-sufficiency, given the weak infrastructure. If you want to promote self sufficiency in a certain sector, you’ve got to ensure that there is supporting infrastructure to support that sector.”

    Indonesia’s falling imports of animal products have also drawn the ire of the United States, which recently filed a complaint at the World Trade Organization complaining the country is restricting trade in plants and animals.

    Sembiring, of the Indonesian Meat Importers Association, believes the government’s self-sufficiency dream is illogical and unattainable.

    Cutting the import quota is questionable, according to Sembiring, because the domestic cattle population has continued to grow alongside the foreign imports.

    Although trade policy and corruption stories have dominated headlines, the traditional street vendors and their customers may be the hardest hit.

    Sukanto, a bakso seller in central Jakarta says rising prices are undercutting his meager income and it is harder to find beef at the market.

    He says there are fewer and fewer bakso sellers around.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora