Indonesia’s agriculture minister isn’t ready to reveal how many Australian cattle he wants next year, but has announced a policy shift away from self-sufficiency.
Indonesian media reports earlier this week suggested the ministry would move from quarterly to annual permits and was eyeing up to 700,000 head in 2016.
Amran Sulaiman on Friday said the numbers were still under discussion.
But he wants to overhaul Indonesia’s policy on beef, saying he will change the decades-old market structure “starting now”.
“This is not about self sufficiency, it’s about increasing productivity,” he told reporters in Jakarta.
“But if we reach self-sufficiency, then thanks to God.
“Increased productivity is in line with self sufficiency however, but that’s political language.
“We are professional, practical.”
President Joko Widodo is targeting food self-sufficiency within four years, however in the past Indonesia has fallen short of its aims on this.
Earlier this year it slashed cattle imports in the name of self-sufficiency with a disastrous effect on Indonesian consumers.
The minister responsible was replaced by the new Trade Minister Tom Lembong, who has promised less protectionist policy.
Mr Sulaiman says he’s still aiming for self sufficiency in rice, corn and soybeans.
The new aim for beef is “productivity”, he stressed.
“If we bring in (import) cattle for breeding, it’s like we’re purchasing a factory,” he said.
“This is what we’re buying. A cattle factory, to increase the population.
“This is for the people, distributed to the people.”
The imported stock could be fattened to 700kg within two years, compared with 70kg with domestic herds, he said.
The minister is targeting a market beef price of Rp75,000 per kilo ($7.50). It is now about Rp100,000-120,000/kg.
Australian cattle producers, who have long argued for an annual quota system to remove fluctuations in demand between quarters, are eagerly awaiting Jakarta’s 2016 numbers.