Thomas Sembiring, executive director of the Indonesian meat importers association or Aspidi (Asosiasi Pengusaha Importir Daging Indonesia), told GlobalMeatNews that existing rearing and production locations were dwindling in size: “In the next 10 years, our cattle production centres will reduce from six currently to four, because Bali and West Nusa Tenggara [in south-east Indonesia] want to focus on becoming the world’s best tourist destinations,” he said.
Sembiring added that conversion to industrial and residential development of farmland in Central Java and East Java would also reduce land currently used to rear cattle. Indonesia’s two current remaining cattle production areas are in South Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara.
“The government must create new cattle areas… otherwise where will you put those imported breeding cows or buffalos?” asked Sembiring.
However, I Ketut Diarmita, director general of husbandry and animal health at Indonesia’s Agriculture Ministry, said the government was only planning to ensure the country had larger and more efficient cattle production regions, but that it wanted to ensure local breeding would end the requirement for importing live cattle. He said: “The government right now has been trying to improve cow/buffalo populations through the ‘UPSUS SIWAB’ mandatory breeding programme.”
He added the government hoped that, through efficient husbandry, the industry could not only raise cattle numbers, but reduce costs, so that Indonesia-reared cattle was clearly cheaper than imported livestock.
The Ministry is certainly being ambitious, wanting Indonesia’s national herd to comprise 42 million head of cattle by 2025, making the country self-sufficient in cattle production, with numbers rising from the 12.3 million head noted in Indonesia Central Bureau for Statistics (BPS - Badan Pusat Statistik) figures for 2013.
He added that, in the meantime, the government wanted to encourage beef consumption, which would create local demand needed to support such an industry. “In order to provide imported cow/buffalo meat with affordable prices” the government has been widening import quotas for new suppliers, such as India and Spain, complementing imports from traditional suppliers Australia and New Zealand.
The growth in imports of Indian frozen beef has drawn criticism from Indonesian producers and retailer groups, which argue that these supplies could be sub-standard. But Diarmita said import controls were in place, ensuring high “technical animal health conditions”, so imports would not be “dangerous for human health…”, the director general explained. He said the decision to import cattle and frozen beef from India was taken following discussions with university experts on animal health, and he stressed that frozen beef imported from India was boneless and its livestock certified free from foot-and-mouth disease.