Indonesian batik can be one of the mainstays of production sectors in facing the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. Batik is crafted by Indonesian crafters and has a high artistic value, so it has a competitiveness that cannot be equated with batik products from China. However, to compete in AEC, human resources (HR) should also be prepared for various reinforcements, including for batik crafters.
Since it was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the national batik production increased to 500%, so it is able to become the backbone of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). The national batik turnover has reached more than Rp 10 trillion, and has been able to absorb more than 3.5 million workers. In addition to human resource issues, national batik industry is also facing several problems. As a cultural pride of Indonesia, the national batik industry was still plagued by a quite severe problem. Until now, batik crafters' dependence on imported cotton was still very high.
Romi Oktabirawa, Chairman of Indonesian Batik Cooperatives Association (GKBI), in Jakarta, on Monday (April 28), said that so far, the national cotton imports come from countries such as China, India, and the United States (U.S.). Romi said that Indonesia was actually working to develop cotton for the national batik industry. The government opened cotton farms in West Nusa Tenggara. Unfortunately, such efforts failed because of unsuitable climate in Indonesia.
The national batik industry, said Romi, cannot rely on the import markets. Moreover, one of the world's cotton-producing countries, the United States, also began addressing the issue of decreasing cotton farms. Cotton fields in this country have been converted to plantations, like corn plantation. To avoid crisis of raw material supply, GKBI proposed that batik crafters and national apparel industry switch to using eucalyptus fibers. This substitute product can be imported from Austria.
GKBI was disappointed with the high dependency on imported cotton products. And with so many natural resources, Indonesia should be able to supply raw materials to the national batik industry. Lack of use of technology was blamed to be the cause of non-optimal cotton development in the country. Until now, Indonesia still has to adopt technologies from abroad.
Chairman of the Indonesian Textile Association (API), Ade Sudrajat, sees that the domestic textile industry is increasingly miserable. Because of import of cotton through intermediaries, they have to buy cotton from these intermediaries at a high price. In fact, approximately 95% of cotton demand by the textile industry depends on imports. He explained that the world's cotton producing countries have been selling cotton to brokers or intermediaries. Then, the intermediaries sell it back to cotton importers at higher prices. The length of the import chain causes price of this raw material to become expensive when it reaches the end users.
Fortunately, said Ade, the weakening of the rupiah has less influence on the domestic textile industry. Because the domestic cotton industry usually has had a long contract, that is, before the weakening of the rupiah occurred. Ade said that the textile industry in Indonesia needs around 600,000-700,000 tons of cotton annually. This means that the portion of imported cotton reached 570,000-665,000 tons. While, the national cotton production only reaches 33,000 tons per year. This volume was not fully absorbed by the local market because Indonesia also exports cotton. The lack of supply of cotton in the country is also affected by the natural conditions of Indonesia which is less suitable for large-scale cotton industry. High rainfall will damage cotton. Cotton production would be better if it is developed in subtropical countries. (E)
Business New - April 30, 2014