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Jumat, 22 Januari 2010

How many cows can you pack on an island?

Jawa Timur ; Madura bulls are not just renowned as racing animals that have become symbols of honor and prestige. They are also the foundation of the nation’s bid to cover its deficit of beef in the country.

The director general for livestock at the Agriculture Ministry, Tjeppy D. Soedjana, says cattle was once abound in Indonesia, but since the 1980s the country had begun importing beef cattle.

“At first we imported 100,000 heads of cattle. This year, the number has increased to 600,000,”
he says.

“Although we continue to import, we’re still short of beef cattle, so cows that are still productive are getting slaughtered.”

He adds that the nation current consumes 2.2 million heads of cattle a year. More than a quarter are imported, while 1.6 million are sourced from within the country. The amount of beef consumed annually in Indonesia is expected to continue to rise in line with the growing population.

“This year we’re trying to cut back our beef cattle imports,” Tje-ppy says.

“To reduce imports, the government will develop livestock farms in certain areas. One of these is Madura, which has long been famous for its cattle.”

Sofyan Sudrajat, in his 2005 book Care of Livestock — Cattle, notes that in the 1980s, Sapudi Island off Madura was famous for having the highest cattle population density in the world. It was also around that time that Indonesia began importing cattle to meet its domestic demand for beef.

The island had 115 heads of cattle per square kilometer, and the animals were notoriously hardy beasts, able to live off dried-out pastures.

East Java Animal Husbandry Agency secretary Henny Muhardini says the number of cattle in Madura is now in decline. The current population is estimated at 602,000 animals, or almost a fifth of the total cattle population of East Java of 3,456,000 animals.

“The number of cattle in Madura continues to decline because the Madurese people still use the traditional system to breed them,” Henny tells The Jakarta Post.

“Some refuse to adopt artificial insemination because they say it’s forbidden by their religion.”

He adds that a third of the current Madura cattle population, or 200,000 animals, can be used as potential breeders through artificial insemination, but only 30,000 have been inseminated this way.

“We’ve approached the farmers and educated them about artificial insemination, but they find it hard to accept,” he says.

“This has made many inseminators give up. From the 200 inseminators working there, only 85 are still actively conducting social education programs.”

To increase the cattle population of Madura, Henny goes on, the East Java administration will designate the island as the province’s cattle husbandry hub. Part of its plan will be to raise farmers’ business capital by providing funding.

“Each group of cattle farmers in Madura will be eligible for Rp 300 million [US$30,000] in aid,” he says.

“We’re also rolling out low-interest loans for small and medium enterprises, particularly cattle

With this ambitious plan in its sights, the provincial administration is targeting a cattle population of 4,665,000 by 2014, or a 6 percent growth rate each year. This is designed to drastically reduce the number of cattle being imported.

The Diamond Cow program, is also helping boost the cattle population, targeting 5 million calves to be born each year. The program is a continuation of the earlier Artificial Insemination of One Million Cattle (Insan Sejati) program, which was achieved in 2008.

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