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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs