First sale success of UPPB Juring Raya marks revitalization of rubber agroforestry in Simpang Dua West Kalimantan

First sale success of UPPB Juring Raya marks revitalization of rubber agroforestry in Simpang Dua West Kalimantan

Indonesia - 25 April, 2023

The UPPB (Collective Rubber Processing and Marketing Unit) Juring Raya, whose members are rubber farmers in Simpang Dua, Ketapang Regency, West Kalimantan, has succeeded in selling their rubber raw material directly to PT NKP up to 3 tons on 20 February 2023. The success of this sale made the members of the UPPB feel happy because the selling price received was higher than if they sold it to middlemen. They are also eager to improve the quality of their rubber raw material because better quality will also make the selling price higher.

Four days after the first sale, the management of PT NKP paid a visit to rubber gardens of the UPPB Juring Raya members in Simpang Dua and promised to visit again and meet directly with the UPPB members while continuing to motivate them to produce good quality of rubber raw material.

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Rubber agroforestry and fruits have long dominated the land cover of Simpang Dua Landscape in Ketapang District of West Kalimantan Province. As a source of income for many families in the area, rubber was once a major commodity because of its high price which hit its peak in 2011. Unfortunately, that golden era has passed. The price of rubber continues to decline so that many people abandon their rubber agroforestry and find other jobs including as oil palm plantation workers. Some people were also tempted to convert their rubber agroforestry to planting oil palm. The considerations are clear: the price of palm bunches is quite good, the buyers are there, no need to concern on weather, and they do not have to work every day like rubber tapping. However, there are still people, especially women and local people who have no other sources of livelihoods, who depend on rubber tapping.

In order to revitalize the rubber agroforestry which is also important in maintaining ecological functions in this area as well as acting as a buffer zone for the Mount Juring Protection Forest area which is still intact, since early 2021, Tropenbos Indonesia (TI) has conducted capacity improvement for rubber farmers through the implementation of Field Schools (SL) in 4 villages in Simpang Dua (Gema, Mekar Raya, Batu Daya, and Kamora). The training, which were held from April 2021 to December 2021, trained rubber farmers in managing and maintaining their rubber agroforestry gardens.

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Rubber farmers need this training to increase technical capacity in managing their rubber agroforestry plantations, improving tapping techniques, and handling tapping product (bokar – rubber processing material). Through this training, rubber farmers are also invited to improve skills in organization, in collaboration, skills, and critical thinking. After the training, several participants were selected to take part in the Training of Trainers (ToT) in February 2022 to become farmer champions and motivators in disseminating knowledge and skills to improve the management of rubber agroforestry gardens in their respective villages.

In addition, Tropenbos Indonesia has also encouraged rubber farmers to carry out the marketing of rubber raw materials jointly by themselves. The aim is to achieve better price and shortening the supply chain because farmers can directly connect to crumb rubber processing factories. It is hoped that the increased price will also be obtained through the improvement of rubber raw material quality according to the standard required by the factory.

To achieve the goal, the initial step taken was to invite the Chairman of the South Kalimantan UPPB Association (Rubber Raw Material Processing and Marketing Unit) to share his experience and success stories in December 2021. Next, TI encouraged SL and ToT alumni to mobilize rubber farmers in their respective villages to establish rubber farmer groups. They involved BPP (Agricultural Extension Center) Simpang Dua and village governments during the group formation process in April 2022. It was recorded that 4 rubber farmer groups (one group per village) were formed with a total of 121 members and 419 hectares of rubber agroforestry gardens.

The four rubber farmer groups eventually formed the UPPB Juring Raya with the support of Tropenbos Indonesia and BPP Simpang Dua. Supports provided were in the forms of organizational strengthening starting from the preparation of the Articles of Association/Bylaws (AD/ART), improving production quality standard and management, and preparation of business plan. Since the end of July 2022, the UPPB Juring Raya submitted an application for registration to the Ketapang Agriculture, Livestock and Plantation Agency (Distanakbun) in order to have legality in running the buying and selling of rubber raw material business. Until now the process of obtaining a STR (Registration Certificate) is still awaiting verification by Distanakbun.

In preparation for the business operation of the UPPB, in October 2022, TI facilitated the UPPB management for a visit to PT New Kalbar Processors (NKP) factory, one of the crumb rubber processing factories located in Pontianak – around 240 km from Simpang Dua District. During the visit, the UPPB Juring Raya members learned about the quality of rubber raw material required by the factory and the difference between good and bad quality which has implications for determining the purchase price by the factory. On this occasion the UPPB management also explored the opportunity to supply rubber raw material to PT NKP. “We are very open for the UPPB to sell rubber raw material to our factory. The purchase price is determined according to the quality assessment and follows the global rubber price," said Hendry, Purchasing Manager of PT NKP during the discussion.

The rubber farmers in Simpang Dua will probably need some times to improve the quality of their rubber raw material, but now it is not something unattainable through the UPPB. At least for now they have been able to sell the first batch of their rubber raw material directly to the buyer.**