Indonesia’s livestock sector has recently been hit by the outbreak of foot-mouth disease (FMD) that primarily affects cows. This outbreak is argued by many to affect price stability in the market as well as the import-export process. The national economy is expected to lose approximately US$1.37 billion a year due to the situation.
FMD is a disease that attacks cloven hoof animals such as cows, lambs, and goats. Originated from an A-type virus, the disease can easily spread through virus infections. Symptoms on those infected might show up after 1 to 14 days of incubation. The unfortunate animals might suffer from a weak state and eating problems to mouth ulcers.
Entering the third week of June, the airborne FMD has spread to 19 provinces as well as 199 districts/cities with a total of 184.646 cases of which 56.822 of them are reportedly cured while there are 0.50% or 921 deaths.
Despite the claim of the disease’s arguably low mortality rate, reports said that around 151.536 cows have been infected and are prone to die. The number kept increasing along with the hundreds of deaths in various regions. East Java is the hot spot for FMD as the region’s infection rate is almost three times higher than the second-biggest.
Not Learning from the Past?
Historically, the policy of dairy cow imports from the Netherlands back in 1887 has caused this disease to burst a few times. It was not until 1983 that the last FMD was recorded to take place in Java and was finished by mass vaccinations. The government declared that the archipelago is now free of FMD 3 years later and proceeded by the Office International des Epizooties (OIE)’s acknowledgment in 1990.
The government’s policy of importing cows based on “zoning” instead of specific countries, is argued by many to be the main reason for the current outbreak. According to H. Slamet, a member of the 4th Commission of the People’s Representative Council, this very policy allows Indonesia to import commodities from India, a country that still has FMD in the area.
India is suspected as the origin of the disease, Malaysia was also suspected before through the illegal imports of goats yet was argued as absurd as that very commodity is priced higher in their market.
In addition to that, Indonesia’s new UU Cipta Kerja, popularly known as Omnibus Law, also consists of several reforms that ease the process of import. On Omnibus Law’s Article 36B Number 11 of 2020, one of the clauses clearly stated that the importation of livestock and animal products is carried out to meet public consumption.
In the previous regulation, such importation would only be done if the domestic production and supply of livestock and animal products is not sufficient for public consumption. It is feared that this change might allow the importation to take place anytime regardless of the domestic stock.
While most people might think that the Omnibus Law only harms workers’ welfare and rights, now everyone knows that it covers more than that.
FMD is not a zoonosis disease that spread from animals to humans. Nevertheless, it is still crucial for the government to solve this issue as quickly as possible. Otherwise, it would affect the national economy in various ways.
Price instability has occurred in various places and is feared to get worse if the government could not fix the issue quickly. In Pamekasan, the price of some livestock, including cows, are experiencing a significant decrease. What was usually priced at 15 million rupiahs now only sold between 10 to 11 million rupiahs.
Those involved in the business, especially in East Java where the disease hits the most, also reported that the demand is now lower compared to last month with people being reluctant to buy cows.
On the other hand, some areas such as Bandung and Bantul recorded an increase in the price for cows. In the latter, a cow that was priced at 22 million rupiahs last year is now priced 5 million higher. Such an increase occurs as a result of the significant drop in supply from East Java while the demand is rising in various areas, hence disrupting the whole supply chain. Nevertheless, the government has reminded the sellers not to commit panic-selling as there is still a lot of livestock sourced from uninfected areas.
In addition to that, the government has brought in cows from various “green areas” such as the recent 550 cows from East Nusa Tenggara as well as the 450 from South Sulawesi’s Sidrap to fulfill the needs of the sacrificial animal ahead of Eid al-Adha in Java, especially Jabodetabek. These cows have passed various health measures including 14-day quarantines to ensure that they are healthy, safe, and free of FMD.
As Eid al-Adha is approaching, the price of male goats has shown a noticeable increase of 30% as more and more people opt for goats instead of cows in fear of the disease.
Next, the FMD might also jeopardize Indonesia’s export performance. The government fears that this turmoil might “spread” to the flow of export of horticulture products. There is a probability for export destination countries to stop importing those products from Indonesia.
As for now, some measures have been taken by the government to solve this issue.
The government has formed a task force to implement movement restrictions as well as other things on the micro-level. Due to its urgency, Susiwijono, the secretary of the Coordinating Ministry for Economy, stated that the budget for this task force would be around what the country has spent to handle the Covid-19 pandemic.
Requiring vaccines as well as the necessary medicines and other supplies for around 14 million cows in the country, Airlangga Hartanto stated that the government will work with various sectors to fulfill the need for 28 million vaccines for 2022. 3 million doses of vaccine are scheduled to arrive in the third week of June and would likely to be used for the healthy ones in East Java first.
Previously, lockdowns have also been enacted in regencies considered as infected areas to restrict the movement of the livestock and contain the outbreak.
All in all, it is basically in everyone’s best interest that this issue can be resolved completely in a quicker period compared to the previous outbreak. The government was very careless to enact such an import policy reform that now causes afflict difficulties for a great number of people.