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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More