Dialog between President Joko Widodo and Porang (Konjac) Farmers, 19 August 2021, at PT Asia Prima Konjac, Madiun Regency, East Java Province

By Office of Assistant to Deputy Cabinet Secretary for State Documents & Translation
Date 19 Agustus 2021
Category: Dialog @en
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Anto (Konjac Farmer)

My name is Anto. I live in Saradan Sub-district, Madiun Regency. We are very grateful for the President’s visit to Madiun. I would like to deliver one thing regarding konjac; we, the konjac farmers, would like Ministry of Agriculture to provide us an assistance in technology for processing organic fertilizer.

Second, we also hope the Ministry can develop products from upstream to downstream so we are capable to process the konjac.

Thank you.

Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Minister of Agriculture (Syahrul Yasin Limpo)

There is one more farmer, Mr, President.

Didi Kuswandi (Konjac Farmer)

Thank you for the opportunity. My name is Didi Kuswandi, a farmer in Saradan Sub-district, Madiun regency. We, the farmers, have cultivated konjac on 2,000 hectares of land in Saradan Sub-district.

Alhamdulillah, thank God the Almighty, we have been cultivating konjac since 1986; all residents of our village also work as konjac farmers. During the past three years, konjac farming has been receiving tremendous support from the agriculture agency and regional government of Madiun Regency, the Regent, and Minister of Agriculture who really supports us today. Moreover, konjac is included as a commodity in food self-sufficiency program that lift our spirit. As 100 percent of our population work in konjac farming, for us the commodity has not only economic values but it also preserves the nature and forest.

Thus, we are not solely thinking about the konjac but also our forest, how to preserve the nature, the land in Madiun Regency that grows commodities which are valuable for the farmers. We have ginger, we have preserved bees that are really important for the ecosystem since the konjac is a very environmentally friendly plant.

In the farm, there are bees, fruits including avocado and durian. The visits from Governor, Minister in our forests always motivate us. Lately, becoming a konjac farmer is a dream of our millennials. In Madiun, doing konjac farming is very challenging. Becoming a farmer is no longer a back-up plan, people flock to the hometown to be a farmer, including me who have stayed abroad for so long and decided to return here to be a farmer.

We also felt the benefits. Regarding the financing, we are grateful for partnership with the banks, namely state-owned publicly listed BRI (Bank Rakyat Indonesia), and BNI (Bank Negara Indonesia). We only need to encourage the farmers to produce konjac finished products to meet the market’s demand. We also must preserve konjac, since planting konjac is considered protecting our heritage for future generation, the nature, oxygen, and the forest.

I think that was from me. I will not ask for other things since assistance from the Government is all that we need. Thank you.

Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

Bismillahirrahmnirrahim.

Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

Distinguished Minister, Governor, Regent, owner of PT Asia Prima, and konjac farmers who have great spirit in the future development of national commodity.

I am aware that agricultural commodities, including konjac, grew by 2.95 percent in the second quarter of 2021 where other sectors recorded a negative trend. I looked at the list and saw konjac.

Therefore, I ordered Minister of Agriculture to pay close attention to this commodity, to do medium-term and long-term planning, export it as finished products not raw materials. If possible, create added value in Indonesia, both in forms of intermediate goods and finished products. Thus, we can generate added value, namely job opportunity, financial benefit within our country.

I believe, since konjac is low in calories and sugar free so it can be processed into powder, food ingredients, is very potential for the future. I expect the youth to process konjac after it is harvested. They must not only grow the commodity but also to process it into a product both through PT Asia Prima and on their own. They may start the first step imitating Asia Prima, making konjac chips. For the future, they can develop other products, konjac rice, for instance.

The Government expects farmers to do the process. We cannot let the process is carried out in other country, such as Japan, China, South Korea, or European countries. We must process our own commodity to strengthen upstream and downstream industries, as well as to bring added value to domestic products.

I knew about this plant from a very long time. I live in a village, so I often saw this plant at backyard or plantation, but I did not know its potential. We often find it under a teak within Perhutani (the state forestry company) areas. What does it mean? It indicates that the plant is easy to grow and to maintain. The Minister told me the price of konjac per ton or kg is pretty valuable. It can become our future commodity and has plenty of opportunities to enter global market because it is sugar free, low in calories and carbs. A very healthy meal to be developed well in the future.

Rearding the request from Anto, the Minister of Agriculture can find the solution to provide..? Machine that produces organic fertilizer, am I right?

Anto (Konjac Farmer)

The technology.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

Technology? What does it mean?

Anto (Konjac Farmer)

The means.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

Alright. Regarding organic fertilizer, let us find the solution, Mr. Minister. I think he has a good point.

Second, I also agree that we want to develop a favorable and mutually beneficial environment. Environment that will bring economic benefits to the people while still preserving the nature. Looking back, because people living around Perhutani areas were not prosperous, they started to deforest the land. Once konjac farming can be massively developed not only in Java Island but also outside Java, I hope it will reduce deforestation. That is our plan. Once again, konjac farming is very promising and I hope the Minister can do detailed planning and target to provide konjang farmers a guide for konjac farming.

Warsito (Konjac Farmer)

Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

I am Warsito from Dagangan Sub-district, at the slope of Wilis Mountain. Let me express my appreciation to the President, Minister, Governor, and Regent.

It is our dream as small farmers, Mr. President, that you can visit Madiun and give us support. I would like to thank the Minister who has provided us organic fertilizers that will boost soil fertility which will eventually increase our income so we can successfully cultivate konjac.

I guess it was all I can say to all of you. All of you, the Regent, and Governor have been supporting us, the farmers. Thus, let me express my gratitude to you. Thank you.

Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

How many konjac can be harvested from one hectare of land?

Warsito (Konjac Farmer)

Around 15-20 tons.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

How long does it take from planting to harvesting?

Warsito (Konjac Farmer)

Eight months after it is sprouted.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

Eight months?

Warsito (Konjac Farmer)

Yes, Sir.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

How much do you earn from that figure?

Warsito (Konjac Farmer)

Around Rp35-40 million.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

You earn Rp40 million in eight months from one hectare of land?

Warsito (Konjac Farmer)

That’s correct, Sir.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

How much plot of land do you own?

Warsito (Konjac Farmer)

Two hectares, Sir.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

Two hectares? It’s large. Rp40 million is huge amount of money. I just knew that you can earn huge amount of money from konjac farming. You can also apply multiple cropping on the same land. Thank you.

Is it easy to sell it?

Warsito (Konjac Farmer)

Very easy, Sir.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

Very easy?

Warsito (Konjac Farmer)

Yes, Sir.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

It means the demand is high. Alright. Thank you.

Yoyok Triyono (Konjac Farmer)

Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

My name is Yoyok. I am 30 years old. I was born into a farming family. My grandfather and father were farmers, and I am the third generation.

Compared to other farmers, I am quite young and new. I became a konjac farmer in 2010. My plantation is located in a forest, as others.

We are grateful for presence of the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, particularly the Ministry of Agriculture that gave us thousands tons of organic fertilizer to us back in 2020.

I want to tell you that there is an emerging number of millennial and young farmers in our village, and maybe in Madiun as well. Previously, after graduation young people were seeking job in the cities, but now they work in konjac farming. After three years of work, they can buy a car. That is the current condition.

Regarding the production and price, I think it is more general. Mr. President, konjac is not only valuable as a tuber, the seed can also be sold. We, the young farmers, also participate in seed germination. Thank God, Minister of Agriculture has introduced Madiun 1 konjac variety in 2020, we have been working as the plant breeders since then.

Thus, Konjac farming only needs one planting season. After one year or two, the tubers can be harvested. Afterwards, the tubers can be harvested every year without having to plant new seeds. That are the benefits of cultivating konjac.

That is all from me. Thank you.

Wabillahi taufiq wal hidayah wa ridho wal hidayah.

Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

After hearing your story, maybe all people want to be konjac farmers. How many hectares of land do you own?

 Yoyok Triyono (Konjac Farmer)

At the beginning I had 0.3 hectares, as passed by my parents. Now, I have three hectares of land.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

Three hectares?

Yoyok Triyono (Konjac Farmer)

Yes.

President of the Republic of Indonesia (Joko Widodo)

Thank you. Good job.

Minister of Agriculture (Syahrul Yasin Limpo)

Distinguished President. Firstly, allow me to express our respect, appreciation, gratitude for your visit.

There is one more thing Mr. President, the bird’s nest. We hope one day you can see the nest and its finished products.

The President, we promise to execute your orders to improve this sector. The Ministry, Governor, and Regent will share this responsibility. Madiun will be the center for the commodity.

Second, we need your directives regarding financial scheme because the farming requires a huge amount of capital, around Rp70 to Rp80 million per hectare. The first harvest can generate Rp40 million of net income. Thus, they can pay their loan to the bank.

It would be great if the KUR (Smallholder Business Credit) can be relaxed particularly bank loan. Although there are still borrowers who are in arrears, we guarantee (that they will pay it).

We also hope konjac can be the future of healthy food. As per your instruction, we will prepare it and will be responsible to implement it by March.

We would not tell lies. The President and Cabinet Secretary can keep my words. The Regent and Governor will also give support.

Distinguished President, we will develop this plant. We hope we can carry out the orders.

Thank you for your visit. We are ready to execute your order.

Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. (RAS/MMB)

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