Sad, Brown Sugar Craftsmen Get Nothing This Year

WAJAK – The beginning of this year’s cane harvest does not work well with farmers and brown sugar craftsmen. Beside the dropping price of cane, the decline of sugar production caused the brown sugar craftsmen face difficulty in making profits.

The price dropping hit 47 craftsmen in Sukolilo Village sub-district Wajak. This year’s brown sugar price is plummeted compared to last year. The price of brown sugar last year was IDR 8,700 per kilogram. However, brown sugar collectors can only pay for IDR 6,700 per kilogram this year. The collectors demand also drops in 2017. The craftsmen who usually sell about 25 tons every week now can only produce 10-15 tons every week.

Ibrahim, the head of Sari Madu Brown Sugar Crasftmen in Sukolilo Village stated that micro industry of sugar brown is down now. “The price drops far enough. We almost get no profit from the selling,” he said.

The price of cane now is around IDR 55,000 per quintal. The selling price of IDR 6,700 is not enough to cover the cane price. “A quintal usually turns into a 10-kilogram sugar (brown sugar),” he added. From ten kilograms of the sugar, craftsmen can only get a total of IDR 67,000.

Ibrahim assumed that if the income is reduced by the price of the raw material, then there is only IDR 12,000 left. The amount of money still has to be reduced to pay for workers, IDR 4,500 per quintal per person. Meanwhile, the process of brown sugar making needs about two to four workers.

“The income can only fulfill the production cost,” he explained. Roughly, the brown sugar craftsmen only benefit the bagasse because it is what they use to replace firewood in making the sugar.

“What to be done. I cannot leave it. It is the only occupation I have. I used to sell about 25 tons in a week, but it’s not that way anymore now,” said Ibrahim.

Ibrahim said that 47 other craftsmen in Sari Madu also experience the same thing. In fact, Sukolilo Village has been one of biggest homemade brown sugar producer in Malang Regency. “It’s been decades here,” he stated. The marketing has reached Manado, Borneo, Sumbawa, and some big soy sauce factories.

“We are innovating too. That’s why we are making gula merah semut for export purpose,” revealed Ibrahim. That way, the economy of brown sugar craftsmen can be lifted when the domestic price plummets as it does today.

Abdul Rokhim, one of brown sugar craftsmen, added that the reason for the price drops is because of the high competition.

“There are too many brown sugar craftsmen, one of them is Kudus,” he said. However, he continued, the quality of Malang Regency’s brown sugar is good enough to compare. “It is known for its sweetness without any chemicals. That’s why it is safe to consume,” he explained.

Pewarta: Aris Dwi
Penyunting: Achmad Yani
Alih Bahasa: Faizah Zakiyah
Foto: Aris Dwi