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

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid