Indonesia and Chili


I can’t help laughing when I read a piece of article quoting statements from Indonesia’s Trade Minister on how to curb with skyrocketing chili price. The minister said she was planting hundreds of chili trees in her yard. She wants people to do what she has done so as they will not be dizzy to cope with the expensive price.

Few days after that, she made just another funny statement. She urged consumers to buy ready-to-eat-hot spicy sauce in bottles instead of buying then grinding chili. This, she said, might cost little money.

I hope Mrs. Minister had thought that lots of Jakartans were struggling to live on tiny portion of lands let alone making use of them to plant hundreds of chili trees. I believe she knows so well that people should not consume freezed vegetables or spices due to their preservatives.

It is understandable that the Indonesian government is totally confused with chili. By the end of December last year, the country’s inflation rose up to 6,96 percent, far above its expectation. The high prices of staple food, particularly rice, is the major cause for the high inflation rate. Chili is one of the driving factors.

Apart from bad weather that leads to failed chili harvest in some of the producing areas, you can blame on me Mrs. Minister. See, I am not a hot spicy sauce addict. But I always ask for that spice for my food menu. Worse, I may not even eat it. I simply want it to whet my appetite. Who could resist not to eat after one sees the red and hot spice? I believe lots of Indonesians behave like the way I do. Most of us like chili and need it. Despite its soaring price, we can’t help ourselves to stop consuming or looking at it. Just like rice, chili is part of our lives. The one we can’t live without. Its been the darling of our culinary heritage. There is even restaurants in Yogyakarta and Surakarta that specialize on chili. Dozens of chili-based menu are on the list. One can choose whether they want hot spicy sauce with tomatoes, shrimp paste, or anything. I wonder how the restaurants are surviving amidst the soaring chili prices.

Let’s put it this way. Aside from possible middleman taking advantage behind this trend, why dont we put our faith that the profit goes entirely for farmers and vegetable sellers? We should be happy for them especially those who have been looking forward to enjoy a handsome amount of money. While for households or simply a chili fan like I am, its such a consequence that we have to look for a way to keep on eating the spice in spite of limited money. May be we have to reduce our consumption.

But please! I strongly insist the government not to even think of importing chili. We have enough of freezed hot spicy sauce at the supermarket thus need no fresh chili at traditional market.

I have a politicking idea. Its inspired with the similar phenomenon happened in India. I just found out that red onions are the hearts for many Indians. There comes a time when climate anomaly (again) causes for a bad harvest thus makes the price of red onions are unaffordable for some Indians. Then they insist one of the political parties to realize their promise to curb with the soaring price. Its amazing to know how vegetables become a political commodity in India. I start to think it will be good as well to be applied here. Just like village head election in my hometown, I suggest parties use symbols of vegetables or foods. For instance, they can choose rice, onions, or corns. And of course, the importance of vegetables or foods do not stop there. Instead of promising high-above-our-reach goals like justice, equality, democracy, I wish local political parties set their focuses on setting stape food prices at the most affordable level for many Indonesians, providing more rooms for entrepreneurship, seizing national energy asset from foreign occupancy, and selecting imported products to give chances for domestic producers to rule the country’s markets.

Would that be possible? Hmmm….


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