The importation of the cattle is part of the government`s efforts to stabilize meat price in the run-up to the post-fasting holiday of Lebaran, Nazirwan Hafiz, Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs of the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin, said on Monday.
The shipment of 1,478 slaughter cows was the first dispatch of the planned importation of 12,500 head of cattle from Australia, he said.
He said the importation of the cattle was to meet the need for beef at home in the run-up to the post-fasting Idul Fitri holiday of Lebaran.
In order to speed up the distribution, the Agriculture Quarantine Agency is sending two veterinarians to carry out quarantine and preshipment inspection in Darwin, Australia.
The imported cattle upon arrival will directly sent to abattoirs for slaughter because they no longer need a quarantine inspection.
To control the health of the cattle during the voyage to Indonesia, a veterinarian was assigned to supervise the imported cattle on board.
About 6,000 others will again be shipped from Darwin later.
The government step is an attempt to cover the shortage of supplies in the market and scale down the rising price of beef which has reached a range of Rp95,000 per kg from the normal price of about Rp75,000 per kg.
Agriculture Minister Suswono said recently that Indonesia would import slaughter cattle in addition to the planned importation of 3,000 frozen beef from Australia.
"We have decided to import slaughter cattle in order to overcome increasing prices and to add supplies. We hope it will arrive at the end of this month," Suswono said.
Besides importing 3,000 frozen beef, state-owned logistics board Bulog is also preparing 200 local cows to meet the market need for beef.
Bulog Chief Sutarto Alimoeso said his board had negotiated with beef breeders in East Java and Lampung provinces.
"We have reached a deal and are now ready to supply 200 head of cattle," Sutarto Alimoeso said.
He hoped that the Bulog would be able to meet the supply need so that the price in the market would return to the normal level of Rp75,000 per kg. He said now the price a kilogram of beef in the market had reached up to Rp110,000 per kg.
Data from the Trade Ministry show beef is sold for Rp94,232 a kg as of July 10, bringing to Rp92.071 a kg the average price since early July.