Gov’t Supports SMEs to Meet Hajj, Umrah Pilgrim Needs
Date 14 Januari 2021
The Government has renewed its commitment to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in fulfilling the needs of Indonesian Hajj and Umrah Pilgrims in Saudi Arabia.
The commitment came following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by Minister of Trade, Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs, Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs, and Chairperson of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) in their respective offices virtually, Wednesday (13/1).
“The signing of the MoU has opened an opportunity to push for exports of SMEs products to Saudi Arabia as a part of an effort to fulfill the needs of Indonesian Hajj and Umrah pilgrims. The cooperation also provides greater opportunities for Indonesian SMEs to contribute to increased non-oil and gas exports,” Minister of Trade Muhammad Lutfi said in a written statement released by kemendag.go.id web page.
According to him, the signing of the MoU became a measure to accelerate non-oil and gas exports during the pandemic, including the national economic recovery this year.
The Minister said there is a potential market in Saudi Arabia that comes from the demand for food and beverages for Indonesian pilgrims.
“We’re aware that there is a niche market for Indonesia since many Indonesian pilgrims visit the Holy Land each year and they need food intake and crave for Indonesian cuisine and products. We want Indonesian products to become the main subject of our non-oil and gas products, especially those from the SMEs,” he said.
In the meantime, Minister of Cooperatives and SMEs Teten Masduki said that the signing of the cooperation is proof of the Government’s support to develop the SMEs products to the Middle East.
“The cooperation is also a form of optimism at the beginning of the year, which shows that SMEs manage to survive amid the pandemic,” Teten said.
This collaborative action, he added, is the key to success in advancing Indonesia’s SMEs as well as part of the Government’s commitment to restore the national economy.
“As the backbone of Indonesia’s economy, the SMEs must be able to constantly transform in order to be competitive at the domestic and global markets. One of the priority programs of Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs in supporting the transformation is to ensure that the SMEs can enter the supply chain, especially in the export route, which can be seen from the synergy in this cooperation,” Teten said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs Zainut Tauhid Sa’adi said that the cooperation aims to further meet the needs of the Indonesian Hajj and Umrah pilgrims in the Holy Land.
“The presence of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims certainly needs support to cover their needs in the Holy Land, including the ihram cloth (two pieces of unstitched cloth), worship equipment such as prayer mats and prayer beads, and food and beverages. Therefore, we strongly support the MoU,” said the Deputy Minister.
For the record, there was also a signing of a Cooperation Agreement between Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs, and Kadin to enhance the role of the SMEs.
On that occasion, Chairperson of Kadin Rosan P. Roeslani expressed his support for the cooperation.
“We fully support both the MoU and the Cooperation Agreement to create synergy among stakeholders in optimizing the role of SMEs to enter the export market, especially in fulfilling the needs of Hajj and Umrah pilgrims,” Rosan said.
Rosan also expressed hope that the cooperation will not only open up export opportunities to Saudi Arabia, but also to other Middle Eastern countries.
Data from Ministry of Religious Affairs shows that the number of Indonesian pilgrims in 2018 and 2019 stood at 204 thousand and 221 thousand people, respectively. Meanwhile, Indonesian Umrah pilgrims in 2018 and 2019 reached an average of 1 million people.
Since 2019, Ministry of Religious Affairs has made it mandatory for Hajj operators to use Indonesian products in Saudi Arabia. Data from Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs and Kadin shows that Indonesian SME players have the potential to meet the demand for these needs.
The cooperation also has the potential to boost exports of Indonesian products to Saudi Arabia through the procurement of SME products for the needs of Hajj and Umrah such as food and beverages, including soy sauce, chili sauce, coffee, and tea.
Several other products include toiletries such as towels, soap, shampoo, and toothpaste, as well as transportation and accommodation while in Saudi Arabia. (PR of Trade Ministry/UN) (RIF/MUR)