TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesia has yet to import feedlot cows mainly from Australia to make up for large shortfall in local supply of beef.
With imports, the agriculture ministry could guarantee that the country has enough stocks of beef for six month consumption.
Director General of Animal Husbandry and Health Muladno said the stock was raised through imports of feedlot cows.
Muladno said in the first six months of this year, imports totaled 298,861 heads or 40 percent of the total imports of 729,400 heads last year.
Imports of feedlot cows in 2015 included 97,618 heads in the first quarter and 201,643 heads in the second quarter of this year.
The imports fell short of the target of 100,000 heads in the first quarter and 267,624 heads in the second quarter.
Muladno said 500,000 to 600,000 more feedlot cows are expected to be imported in the third and fourth quarters of this year.
"The planned imports in the third and fourth quarters are only to ensure stock at the end of this year or for reserve in the beginning of 2016," he said.
He said the government is concerned with maintaining stability in supply and price that could be guaranteed with imports.
Imports of live cows and beef, however, have to be controlled and distribution has to be facilitated efficiently to maintain price stability, he added.
Director General of Cattle Breeding Fauzi Luthfan said until July 2015, there were 560,000 head of feedlot cow in stock and 60 percent or 332,147 of them were already slaughtered.
Fauzi said imports accounted for around 20 percent of the countrys feedlot cow requirement every year.
"Imports still contribute considerably to the countrys supply of feedlot cows. In 2014, imports of live cows totaled 729,400 head, but 261,100 of them were left to make stock in the beginning of 2015," he said.
He said the country needs around 45,000 head of imported beef cows a month against the total monthly requirement of 230,000 head.
The largest parts of the supply are for Jakarta, West Java and Banten, he added.
In order to maintain stability in supply and price of beef in the coming years, the agriculture ministry has encouraged and facilitated expansion of cattle farms in various areas such as South Sumatra, West Nusa Tenggara and Sulawesi.
The agriculture ministry has set a program toward creating self sufficiency in beef supply. The program has caused concern in Australia as Indonesia is its largest market for its live cattle.
Success in the program to expand beef cow farms would reduce the countrys dependence on imports for live cows from Australia.
Australian agriculture minister said last week that a new live cattle export deal would soon be signed with unnamed country. The statement came a day after its largest buyer Indonesia slashed quarterly import quota by 80 percent.
Indonesia had issued permits to import 50,000 head of cattle in the third quarter, a trade ministry official said early last week , less than one fifth of what was allowed in the previous quarter.
The Indonesian decision is a blow to cattle farmers in Australia.
All cattle exporters in Australia wanted to hear official decision of the Indonesian government about the live cattle import quota in the rest of 2015.
"Currently we are awaiting the Indonesian governments announcement about live cattle we could exports to that country" Richard Norton, Director of Meat & Livestock Australia Limited (MLA), in a seminar on meat industry in Australia.
"In the first quarter we already shipped 250,000 head of live cows and we have yet to wait for confirmation about the quota," Richard added.
Richard said in 2014 Indonesia gave a live cattle import quota of 730,000 heads from Australia.
"Indonesia is Australias largest market for live cattle," Richard said.
However, under the new government of President Joko Widodo, there is change in policy. The new government pledged priority for expansion of livestock farm toward self sufficiency in beef supply.
MLA is an Australian cattle and meat marketing , research and development organization.
In 2014, Australia`s exports of cows to Indonesia peaked in value at A$883 million or around Rp9.3 trillion.
Indonesian Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel has not announced cow import quota. Rachmat said currently Indonesia is seeking self sufficiency in beef supply with 80 percent of the requirement to be supplied locally.