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Indonesia reports rise in food smuggling ahead of Ramadan
Publication Date : 05-06-2014
Cases of reported food smuggling from overseas into North Sumatra have increased ahead of the fasting month of Ramadan, which is expected to begin by the end of the month.
The North Sumatra Customs Office said the food products commonly smuggled into the province lately were meat, sugar and shallots.
Office head Harry Mulya said food smuggling tended to rise approaching Ramadan due to increased demand and limited local market supply. He added that generally food products were smuggled in from Malaysia.
“This occurs almost every year,” Harry said in an interview in Medan on Wednesday.
His office, he said, had foiled two attempts to smuggle shallots into the country from Malaysia in May.
“The shallot supply in the market in Medan has been decreasing. This has caused rampant smuggling of shallots from overseas,” said Harry.
The two attempts to smuggle shallots grown in China were foiled in the waters off Tanjung Jumpul, Asahan regency on May 2, and off Tanjung Siapi-api, Asahan regency on May 30. The boats entered Indonesian waters after departing from Asa Port in Port Klang, Malaysia.
Customs officers seized 48 tonnes of shallots in both cases, while 11 boat crew members and captains were detained.
Meanwhile, traders at traditional markets in Medan acknowledged depleted shallot supplies ahead of Ramadan had driven the price up from 20,000 rupiah (US$1.72) per kilogram to 26,000 rupiah.
A trader at the Medan Central Market, Rosmalina, said the price of shallots had increased in the past week due to a drop in daily supply of around 10 per cent.
She also said that shallots sold in traditional markets in Medan mostly came from Java, but stocks have lately dropped. Fortunately, she added, imported shallots were still available to replenish current supplies.
“I’m not aware whether they are imported legally or illegally, but imported shallots are available in the market now,” said Rosmalina, adding that she had adjusted her price to meet that of the market.