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Research Report

Rattan: The decline of a once-important non-timber forest product in Indonesia

Erik Meijaard
Ramadhani Achdiawan
Meilinda Wan
Andrew Taber
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2014
Pages: 54
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-8)

    Rattan (from the Malay rotan) is the collective name for the roughly 600 species of palms in the Calameae family. Most rattans are forest species. They are climbers that use thorny stems and leaves to hold on to the supporting structure of other plant species. They are cultivated either within forests or on swidden land, where rattan is planted after the first years of agricultural production and then grows along with the regrowing forest.

    Rattan is used to make goods such as furniture for national and international markets. Rattans are generally lightweight, durable and — to a certain extent —...

  2. (pp. 9-10)

    The present study analyzes the Indonesian rattan industry, the relationship between rattan production and deforestation and forest degradation, and the role of the industry in local livelihoods. A detailed analysis was conducted in West Kutai District, East Kalimantan, Indonesia. In this same area, CIFOR had previously conducted household livelihood surveys, on rattan farming, in this same area.

    We interviewed 40 people along the Indonesian rattan market chain, including rattan collectors, rattan farmers, rattan traders, general local traders, regional traders, Java-based traders and exporters, and Java-based rattan furniture and handicraft producers. Our list of interviewees also included people from local governments...

  3. (pp. 11-13)

    The interviews with people from along the rattan market chain provided a generally dichotomous view of the rattan trade, its main constraints and possible ways to reduce those constraints (Table 3; for detailed interview results, see Appendix). On the one hand, people in the rattan-producing areas of Kalimantan (and presumably Sulawesi and Sumatra) are in favor of opening all exports of rattan, as they believe that this would lead to higher international demand and higher prices. They claim that Indonesia has enough rattan to supply both the international and domestic markets, but buyers have to pay the right price. These...

  4. (pp. 14-17)

    Since 2000, Indonesia’s rattan exports have more or less stabilized; volumes fluctuate between 140,000 and 165,000 tons with an annual Free on Board (FOB) value of between USD 300 million and USD 370 million. During this period, total exports were lower in 2005 and 2006, possibly because of the export restrictions imposed on raw and semi-processed rattan in 2005 (Figure 3).

    The economic crisis that started in 2009 caused a decrease in total rattan exports from Indonesia; combined export of unprocessed rattan and rattan products dropped to just over 135,000 tons/year (Figure 4). Rattan is considered a durable and nonessential...

  5. (pp. 18-23)

    As mentioned elsewhere in this report, current farm-gate prices for rattan are lower than historical levels, when expressed in USD value (Figure 6). From a high of USD 0.69/kg in the early 1980s, rattan prices fell to a low of USD 0.06/kg in 1998, after which they slowly increased to USD 0.15/kg in 2010. The relative value of rattan to farmers also fell, as a comparison with the price of rice, a major staple, makes clear (Figure 7). Data from 1844 (Schwaner 1853–1854) shows that 1 kg of rattan once bought as much as 15 kg of rice. By...

  6. (pp. 24-25)

    The CSF repeat household surveys resulted in 129 interviews. We rejected 15 of these because the households had not been surveyed in 2004 but were new additions. The quality control by one of us (MW) suggested that the interviews had not been done as carefully and accurately as we had hoped. For example, it was found that the purpose of the interview had not been clearly explained, and overall the interviews were done rather quickly (taking about 30 minutes per interview). It appeared that sometimes the interviewer had used his own judgment on what to ask rather than following the...

  7. (pp. 26-30)

    It appears that, since the 1980s, the Indonesian rattan industry has been the playing field of several political and economic interest groups, with different groups representing different parts of the rattan market chain. Many of the opinions held by industry stakeholders are not supported by economic facts; rather, they reflect political messaging that is then repeated by the constituents of the different groups. This became clear through the interviews conducted for this study. Through our analysis of macroeconomic data, we have tried to elucidate the state of Indonesia’s rattan sector and assess how this state is influenced by the actions...