Weather, lack of supply blamed for sharp increase in chilli prices in Indonesia

JAMBI/BANYUMAN, Indonesia - Recent changes in the weather and a dwindling supply have contributed to the sharp increase in the price of chili in the past few days in several traditional markets across the country.

Business development and production head of the Jambi Trade and Industry Office M. Zainik said the price of chili rose to Rp 75,000 (S$8) per kilogram from Rp 50,000 per kg at the Angso Duo and Simpang Pulai markets.

"The price of chili even surged to Rp 80,000 per kg at the Talang Banjar market," Zainik said.

He said the increase in the price of the commodity was attributed to limited supplies at distributor level as the harvest period in chili-production centers in Java, such as Nganjuk and Probolinggo, in East Java, had passed.

"We have been relying on these production centers so far. Medan [North Sumatra], which we had been relying on to meet demand, has been disrupted by the Mount Sinabung eruption," he said.

Chili production centers in Sumatra, such as Medan and Linggau, on which Jambi also relies, have also passed their harvest period.

"The current situation in Linggau is the same as us, as it also relies on stocks from Java," said Zainik.

The eruption of Mt. Sinabung has disrupted the supply of chili to markets in cities in Riau. The price of the commodity had risen to Rp 100,000 per kg, Antara reported on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Manado Trade and Industry Office plans to increase its stock of chili as Christmas celebrations near. It plans to buy chili from production centers in West Nusa Tenggara.

The price of the commodity in the city's traditional markets was currently at Rp 80,000 per kg.

Chili, shallots and garlic are staple ingredients of Indonesian meals.

The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) announced on Monday that shallots and garlic accounted for 0.44 per cent and 0.2 per cent, respectively, while bird's eye chili accounted for 0.05 per cent, of the food commodities basket that made up 2.04 per cent of total headline inflation.

Meanwhile, in Central Java, the price of chili in the past two weeks has continued to rise at a number of traditional markets, frequently by as much as 100 per cent.

However, farmers claim they have not profited much from the rise in prices due to limited stocks.

"Our harvest is probably only around 30 per cent of usual. Many chili plants died due to the recent drought. We are facing problems in the current planting season due to too much rain," said farmer Sukirman, 43, of Sumbang village, Banyumas regency, Central Java.

According to Sukirman, the cultivation of chili is difficult as conditions can be neither too dry nor too wet. "The plants will die due to heavy rainfall like now," he said.

A trader at Segamas market in Purbalingga regency, Sukarti, 45, said the rise in the chili price was due to the current high wholesale prices, reaching as high as Rp 40,000 per kg.

"The price was between Rp 18,000 and Rp 20,000 per kg two weeks ago," Sukarti told The Jakarta Post on Nov. 16.

Another trader Dulrohman, 50, said the increase in chili prices was triggered by rumours of the fuel-price hike.

"The poor harvest has naturally triggered the chili price rise but it has risen further due to reports of the fuel-price increase, thus spurring prices," said Dulrohman.

He added that while nearly all prices of foodstuffs at the market had risen in the past week the highest rise was that of chili.

"We also pity the customers," he said.