When Housewives Scream for Garlic

Shallots and garlic have been the main ingredients for many of Indonesian cuisines. Almost every dish is served with these famous herbs to enrich the flavor of almost every Indonesian dining table.

Lately, the ordinarily famous herbs went scarce in the Indonesian markets, and the price was skyrocketing from Rp20 thousand per kilogram to about Rp60 thousand per kilogram.

It even reaches up to Rp100 thousand per kilogram in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara.

Such condition then upsets almost every housewife who usually purchases garlic or shallots in their normal price, such what experienced by Mariani who bought only two cloves of shallots at Rp5.000.

“It is very extraordinary that I can only buy two cloves of shallots for Rp5.000, I usually get a lot more than that,” she said after purchasing her herbs at local vegetable vendor in her residence.

Beside Mariani, street food vendors like the “Warteg” (small restaurants that serves homemade cooking) also overwhelmed about the shallot price hike, they also have to make a hard decision either to cut the herbs use in their dish or raise the food’s price as well.

“There’s nothing we can do but to reduce the use of these shallots or increase the food’s price, the price is already expensive from the market. This is insane, how we can gain profit from this situation?” said a Warteg owner in South of Jakarta Rusdi.

The suspicious about the rent-seeking practices and the herbs importer cartel conspiracy then surfaced after tens of illegal garlic containers were found stuck in the ports, and showed cartel conspiracy in the trade as said by the Indonesian Natural Resources Importers Association (Gisimindo) .

The association’s chairman Bob Budiman said that the current situation is indicates a cartel conspiracy in the horticultural trade system, those are traders with large capital who tried to control the market.

The indication of trade cartel involved behind the shallot and garlic price hike was previously unveiled by the Trade Competition Monitoring Commission (KPPU), which based on the findings of hundreds of detained containers that are not yet distributed to the market.

It was reported that there are 332 containers or about 9,686 tonnes of imported garlic from China still sitting in Tanjung Perak port, Surabaya, East Java earlier. The figure is equivalent to six percent of the total import quota for January to June period amounting to 160.000 tons of garlic.

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