Production output of people’s tea plantation were showing downturn as well, now posted at less than 1 ton/ha/year and many of them even converted their tea plantation into seasonal plants. And yet around 50% of tea plantations in Indonesia were people’s plantation, the number of farmers posted at 100.000 family heads; now their state of welfare being most adverse.
Low productivity and poor welfare of farmers was because land ownership was less than 1 ha per family. The condition made farmers split their attention to other activities, leaving their tea plantations unattended and consequently yielding low output. Compare this to plantations belonging to PTPN where productivity reached 2 tons/ha/year.
If this condition were let to happen, the process of conversion from tea to vegetables would continue. Evidently tea plantations could hold water so land erosion could be prevented. If conversion continued to happen then disasters like landslide might be inevitable.
The only way to prevent natural disaster was an integrated national agri-business movement for tea plantation, especially people’s tea plantation. Reformation would begin from improvement of farmers’ business sub-system, processing until marketing. The improvement exercised by the Government today was only on one sub-system, i.e. farmers’ business which did not solve problem on the overall.
His movement would be successful if handled by all parties including farmers, cooperative societies, business people, and trans Governmental ministries and all levels. “The way it has been the one who took to action was only the Ministry of Agriculture through Plantation Divisions in the regions, while other parties were not involved” Arifin remarked.
The tea industry in Indonesia still held great potentials to be reformed and developed. Productivity could still be increased to 2.5 tons/ha/year. The market could also be developed especially at home in Indonesia by increasing per capita consumption from 330 gr/year to 600 gr/year in the next 5 years.
The movement, which was exercised from upsteam to downstream was essentially to increase price at farmers’ level so their welfare could be promoted. The modus was by creating clusters, where in 5 clusters there were at least ha of people’s tea plantation.
In each cluster farmers’ group were formed in the form of cooperatives. In each cluster problems faced by farmers were identified whether in the sub-system of farmers business, processing or marketing. Problem solution must be done on the overall if solutions were portional, for example only on productivity only without quality and price upgrading, then farmers’ welfare would not be too much uplifted.
Partnership between businessmen and farmers which had been engaged so far was between PTPN VII and farmers in Cianjur, Garut and Bandung; Partnership between farmers and PT Pagilaran in Central Java; partnership between farmers and KPB Chakra in Madjalengka, Garut and Bandung; partnership between farmers and Business Watch Indonesia in Central Java and West Java, between farmers and Bhica Tea Indonesia Partnership (ETP) in the Regency of Bandung; and partnership between farmers and PT Sedap Wangi in the Regency of Cianjur.
Tea plantations was known to accommodate 320,000 workers and provide bread and butter for 1.3 million people. Contribution of tea to GDP was Rp 1.2 trillion yielding forex of USD 110 million/year. Direct linkages ahead and backward reached 1.5 to 3.
Total area of tea plantation in 2009 reached 12,251 ha consisting of people’s plantation 46%, PTPN 30% and the private sector 26%. The most expansive was in West Java covering 97,138 ha or 77% of total area of tea plantation in Indonesia. Beside West java tea plantations were spread out in Central Java, East Java, Yogyakarta, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Jambi, Lampung, Bengkulu, South Sulawesi and Southeast Sulawesi.
In terms of environment, tea plantations was relatively green because it supported conservation of land water. For example if tea plantation were converted into vegetable fields there was bound to be flood downstream.