JAKARTA: Indonesia will import an estimated 700,000-800,000 head of cattle in 2016, the country’s official Antara news agency reported, citing Trade Minister Thomas Lembong. Lembong also estimated raw sugar buys at more than 3 million tonnes, although he stressed that these forecasts may change. “The president and vice president have said several times that self-sufficiency in food is a mid-term goal,” said Lembong, speaking during an official visit to Kupang, capital of East Nusa Tenggara province.
Since coming to power in October 2014, President Joko Widodo has pursued food self-sufficiency to protect farmers, but the result has often been volatile prices and worried investors, eroding support for the government. One month after his inauguration, Widodo said he wanted the Southeast Asian nation to be self-sufficient in beef within one year. Widodo’s government has curbed or delayed imports of raw sugar, beef and cattle, corn and rice, which caused shortages of some of those commodities and increased retail consumer prices.
When meat prices fluctuated this year after the government cut live cattle imports for the third quarter, Indonesia looked at cattle imports from a broader range of countries to try and reduce the cost of beef. Live cattle imports were 720,000 in 2014, while the estimates for the 2015 imports are yet to be released. The world No 3 beef exporter Australia supplies around 40 percent of the beef consumed in Indonesia.