The Cash of Livestock

Tempo sent reporters to a number of regions. For two months they traveled around learning about the impact of the FMD outbreak on local farmers. as well as finding evidence to back our initial suspicions.

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Behind difficulties there are always opportunities. In Indonesia, this cliche took a nasty turn during a crisis. The outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) that struck ruminant animals at the end of April has led to bankruptcy for farmers in a number of regions around Indonesia. In the run up to the Idul Adha (Day of Sacrifice) holiday, which should have brought in income, they faced frustration because their livestock were infected with the virus.

Indonesia had been free of FMD since 1990. As a result of serious attention paid to animal health in the 1970s, we had been able to protect livestock from the virus that first came to Indonesia in 1887. But while a regulation solved the problem, another regulation allowed it to return.

The political constellation changed, as did the politics related to the Indonesian food industry. Competition for meat trade connections led to the government changing the import regulations in 2014, moving from a country-based to a zone-based approach. This meant that nations not free of FMD, if it came from a zone free of that disease, could import meat to Indonesia.

This change made us vulnerable to the entry of animal diseases. The Ombudsman discovered that FMD entered Indonesia in 2015. It became established locally, and then exploded this year, spreading rapidly. The FMD virus can spread through items exposed to it, and can even be airborne.

The government has given the impression of allowing this outbreak to spread since the first discovery in Gresik, East Java. The transport of livestock was allowed to continue, and there were no regional quarantines. The government even announced that there was no problem consuming meat infected with the virus because it does not endanger humans.

The chaotic mismanagement of the outbreak rang our journalistic alarm bells. We realized that something was amiss. As usual in crisis management, we suspected that people were taking advantage of the situation. An editorial meeting tasked the investigation desk with looking into these suspicions. Is it true that this negligence has provided an opportunity for meat importers to make a profit? And like the Covid-19 pandemic, perhaps there were people seeking to make a profit from the supply of vaccines.

We sent reporters to a number of regions. For two months they traveled around learning about the impact of the FMD outbreak on local farmers. as well as finding evidence to back our initial suspicions. Reporting in these regions also uncovered another, no less serious problem: the government’s endeavor to achieve self-sufficiency in meat is in chaos. The 1,000 Cattle Villages program from the agriculture ministry has not been implemented in line with the initial plan. Instead of promoting local farmers, the self-sufficiency program has continued to import animals not suitable for conditions in Indonesia.

There is no taboo about imports if they needed to ensure sufficient food stocks. But in Indonesia, food import quotas are fought over by rent-seeking politicians to make a profit. This competition turns nasty when it occurs during a crisis like this FMD outbreak.

Erwan Hermawan

Editor

INVESTIGATION

FMD’s Profits and Losses

The agriculture ministry appointed five companies to import FMD vaccines without a tender process. Even a fruit import company has become a supplier.

Imported Meat’s Heyday

As well as vaccine importers, beef importers are also making huge profits. The collapse in local beef stocks has led to imports soaring.

The Dream of Beef Self-Sufficiency

Every government has dreamed of self-sufficiency in everything, including meat. The agriculture ministry organized a cattle cooperation village program.

Troubles of Local Cows

Amid all these imports there are endeavors to support local farmers. Poor management has led to disarray in this program.

 

The Agriculture Ministry Answers

The Indonesian Veterinary Association says that the state has been negligent in preventing the FMD outbreak. Why look for a vaccine only after the disease has spread?

 Opinion

Profit Seekers in the Time of Crisis

It is too late to prevent the outbreak, and the procurement of vaccines has gone ahead without a tender. Why does government management always forget about accountability?

ECONOMY

Aggressive Subsidies to Curb Inflation

The soaring prices of energy and food triggered inflation spikes across the globe. While other nations raise their interest rates, Indonesia opts to increase its subsidy budget.

Bad Loans at Normal Times

Business actors are requesting for an extension of the banking credit restructuring policy, which will end in March next year. While businesses have not recovered, they now are having troubles in paying loans.

Opinion:

Time Bomb of Debt Restructuring

The quality of credit in the banking system is in decline. This could lead to major problems if relief through restructuring ends.

ENVIRONMENT

Claims on Peat Restoration

The environment and forestry ministry finds that 83.43 percent of the peat ecosystem are damaged. It claims the restoration of 3.1 million hectares of peatland in concession areas.

Opinion

The Half-Hearted Restoration of Peatlands

Indonesia fails to preserve peatlands that could mitigate the climate crisis. The carbon trading scheme to conserve peatlands is still unclear.






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