No less than 85% of the world’s raw material for rattan comes from Indonesia. As rattan vines hung in the thick stands of forests. Because of its nature, rattan is an indicator of the ecological health of forests, it is not excessive if rattan is known as a green product.
For some tribes in Indonesia, such as the Dayaks, socio-cultural rattan cultivation is a part of daily life. For hundreds of years, rattan has been traditionally cultivated and maintained by the community.
From farmers or rattan seekers in the forest, rattan is then traded through intermediary traders. The end result of this trade flow, rattan is included in the production process of making furniture such as chairs and various other handicrafts.
“Rattan used to be the foundation of our lives, around the 1980s, by taking 1 quintal of rattan from the forest, I was able to pay tuition for one semester, but now the selling price of rattan cannot meet the cost of living, 1 kg of rattan is only valued at the most expensive 3,500 rupiahs, “Sarwepin from the Central Kalimantan Katingan Rattan Farmers Association (P2RK) revealed the problem of rattan prices in his village.
In Katingan Regency, it is estimated that there is a potential of 1,000 tons/month of rattan that can be harvested, from a total of approximately 325 thousand hectares of forest and rattan gardens cultivated by the community.
According to P2RK records, at least 61% of the total 44,000 households in Katingan have and or depend on rattan for their livelihood.
Darwin complained about the current low price of rattan. In addition to institutional issues at the farm level and handling of post-harvest rattan that has not been maximized, he specifically highlights government regulations that prohibit the sale of raw rattan for export purposes.
The regulation referred to Sarwepin is Minister of Trade Decree number 35/2011 concerning the prohibition of the export of raw and semi-finished rattan.
The reason behind the ban on rattan export itself for the Minister of Trade is to empower domestic industries. Before raw rattan was banned for export, most of the raw rattan material was exported to China and supported the furniture industry there.
It is rather ironic indeed, when China, which did not have rattan raw materials, was finally able to become the number one rattan furniture industry in the world.
Due to the rise of Chinese rattan furniture, the domestic rattan furniture industry, which is mostly located on the north coast of Java, has been hit and closed down. Furious to see this, the government also banned the export of raw rattan.
Data released by BPS, the Ministry of Trade, and the Ministry of Industry noted that after the closing of the raw rattan export tap, there was an increase in domestic production from USD 180 million in 2011 to USD 202 million in 2012. The biggest surge occurred in rattan furniture from USD 128 million to USD 151 million.
If the processed rattan industry surges, then what causes the price of rattan raw materials at the farm level outside Java to fall as complained by Sarwepin?
Shouldn’t it be when the industry is excited, as the government assumes it will attract demand for raw materials which will eventually increase the purchase price of rattan at the producer level?
The answer is too much supply (oversupply) at the farm level. With the closing of raw rattan export taps, rattan raw materials outside Java became abundant.
As revealed by Haryadi Himawan, Director of Social Forestry Development, the Ministry of Forestry, which states that the absorption capacity of the domestic rattan industry is only 20-30% of the total rattan raw material produced by farmers.