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Research Report

Furniture and people: A photo journey from market to forest

Herry Purnomo
Rika Harini Irawati
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2009
Pages: 130
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. iii-iii)
    Herry Purnomo, Melati and Rika Harini Irawati
  2. (pp. iv-iv)

    This illustrated guide describes the different aspects of the furniture industry in Jepara affected by our furniture value chain project. The project aims to improve small-scale furniture enterprises that rely on mahogany and teak timber in Jepara by enhancing the structure and function of the furniture industry. Improved governance and efficiency can position small-scale producers in a greater role within the value chain, help their furniture enterprises thrive and enhance their income levels. The goals of the project are in line with UNDP’s millennium development goals (MDGs) on poverty alleviation, global partnerships and environmental sustainability.

    This guide tells the story...

  3. (pp. 1-6)

    The use of teak in furniture making has long been a part of Javanese culture. Centuries of historical records dating back to the seventh century BCE describe the abundance of teak forests in Central Java and the formation of skilled carpentry groups who used its timber for the Kalingga, Majapahit, Demak and Mataram kingdoms. The Javanese consider teak and items made from teak a valuable part of their culture, a species apart from other types of wood. Local carvers and furniture makers absorbed the influences of Chinese, Indian, Arabic and European designers, producing to this day intricate designs and highly...

  4. (pp. 7-28)

    Wood furniture is the most important export commodity produced in Jepara. Annual exports are valued at about USD 100 million. There are 510 wood furniture export companies in Jepara that export to 99 destination countries. The primary export destination countries are Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, Spain, and the United States. Exporting companies identified eco-certification, bureaucratic burdens, legal requirements, raw material supply, capital and marketing as challenges for improving their competitive advantage.

    The local furniture market covers an extensive list of showrooms, promotion centres and exhibitions. Both local and international buyers browse through these different channels,...

  5. (pp. 29-52)

    Furniture is shipped to local and foreign markets using different transportation channels. Trucks move furniture straight from the producers to local showrooms and promotion centres throughout Indonesia. Delivery to foreign markets requires a more complex chain of transportation. Pickup trucks collect products from producers and deliver them to a nearby container, arranged by an exporting company. Once the container is loaded, it is sent to the harbour for shipment. Upon arrival at the harbour, containers are stored to await document clearance from the customs office, then uploaded to container ships. It can take a couple of days or several weeks...

  6. (pp. 53-64)

    Exporters and large-scale companies generally obtain unfinished furniture from small-scale producers. They specify the products they will buy from these producers. Those specifications come from their buyers abroad. If the unfinished furniture fails to meet these specifications, the producers must fix the products before the exporters will accept them. These rules are set by the buyers, and they set the price. A producer can rarely negotiate on price unless they already have an established, long-term relationship with the buyer.

    Other large-scale companies cooperate with fully integrated and mechanised furniture production enterprises. These producers have their own log yards and maintain...

  7. (pp. 65-90)

    Small-scale furniture producers are the main actors in furniture production in Jepara. They choose the timber stock, make components, assemble them and supply the furniture ready for finishing to large-scale companies and exporters. They search for orders, and may be forced to take orders at prices insufficient to cover their production costs. Competition among small-scale producers is fierce. Some buyers take advantage of this situation and push down producers’ profit margins.

    Men usually do the heavy work of making components and assembling the furniture. Women do the lighter jobs in finishing such as sanding the raw furniture products as they...

  8. (pp. 91-104)

    Log traders obtain logs from community forests, the state-owned timber company Perhutani and unknown sources. Compared to 10 years ago, log traders in 2009 have greater difficulties obtaining larger diameter logs. This finding indicates a potentially alarming situation on timber availability. Another finding on timber constraints is the increasing price for logs. Industry observers estimate that these price increases are caused by timber scarcity as well as external factors including higher fuel prices.

    Small-scale producers tend to buy logs from log traders located near their workshops to minimise transportation costs. They also tend to buy cheaper small-diameter teak and mahogany...

  9. (pp. 105-116)

    Teak and mahogany are the two most sought after hardwoods in international markets. Teak is the most in demand tropical hardwood due to its strength and aesthetic qualities. More than 90% of the world’s teak grows in South and Southeast Asia in natural and plantation forests. Mahogany originated in natural forests in Latin America. Teak has been naturalised in Java, Indonesia, where it was introduced somewhere between 400 and 600 years ago along with mahogany. Javanese teak and mahogany plantations provide wood for many furniture manufacturers and producers in Indonesia and other parts of the world.

    Teak and mahogany timber...

  10. (pp. 117-121)

    1. Many people make a living through the small-scale furniture industry.

    2. A furniture industry that is culturally rooted stands a better chance of survival.

    3. Jepara is a world carving and learning centre with unique culture, history and unlimited potential for creativity.

    4. Action research in which understanding and changing behaviour occur at the same time is needed to improve small-scale producers’ place in the industry.

    5. Good governance within the value chain will provide better bargaining power, market access and wood access for small-scale producers.

    6. Government intervention is needed to improve small-scale producers.

    7. Four promising scenarios could help improve the situation for small-scale...