Saturday, June 11, 2011
Indonesian President SBY Smart to Treat Cattle Ban Seriously
Food security is a global concern and all nations are doing their best to ensure that there are no disruptions in supply chains and no sharp spikes in food prices. This is now as important to nations as defense and economic security.
It is with this background that the reaction from state officials to Australia’s decision to ban all live cattle exports to Indonesia is worrying. The earlier response to shrug off the ban would have impacted supply just ahead of the Muslim fasting month. This would have meant higher prices at a time when traditionally food prices are already rising.
The Australian gover n ment announcement expanded the recent suspension of exports of live cattle to 12 Indonesian abattoirs after they were accused of mistreating the cattle. The decision came after an Australian television channel showed the abattoirs abusing cattle before they were slaughtered.
Recognizing the severity of the problem, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has now instructed his ministers and related parties to investigate and manage Indonesian abattoirs in accordance with health, religious and animal welfare standards.
“Animal welfare is very important for us to uphold,” he said. “So related ministers and governors should go down to the abattoirs to ensure they fulfill the religious n orms, health aspects and animal welfare.”
The government is right to worry that without a significant solution to the problem, beef supply in the country could be severely disrupted. If prices shoot up just before Ramadan and Idul Fitri, it could cause social tensions. The longer-term goal must be to move toward self sufficiency in beef production, but only if it makes economic sense. We cannot be self-sufficient in all food categories so we must make strategic decisions in which food crops and meat supplies the country holds a competitive advantage in.
Yudhoyono is scheduled to lead a meeting with related ministers and regional representatives as well as the business community in early July to draft national policy on beef self-sufficiency.
The government must make sure that whatever decision it takes, it has been well-researched and all possible options have been fully considered. Editorial, The Globe Jakarta