Tanah Nusantara (red: Indonesia) was once well known in the world for its spice production. One of the most valuable is vanilla.
In the world, Indonesian vanilla is recognized as the highest quality and has even defeated the country of origin vanilla, Perneli or Panili, Mexico. Crossed by the equator with the sun’s orbit that is so close, Indonesian vanilla is loved by the world.
In fact, the European community has a special nickname for Indonesian vanilla, ‘Java Vanilla Beans’. Taken literally, it means ‘Javanese vanilla pods’, although not all Indonesian vanilla originates from Java Island.
Until now, people in rural areas still cultivate vanilla, although not as intensively as in its heyday, in the range before the 1980s.
In various literatures, it is said that vanilla was brought into Indonesia by the Dutch East Indies government directly from its country of origin in the 19th century. In fact, its productivity and quality actually beat the country of origin of vanilla, Mexico.
“In the past, the price was Rp. 60 thousand per kilogram, then it fell to Rp. 4,000. So, people are lazy to cultivate vanilla,” said Ibnu Ansari, a vanilla farmer who seems very familiar with the vanilla business journey in Indonesia.
Make no mistake, the Rp. 60 thousand which Ibnu referred to was the rupiah in the 1970s. He didn’t compare the nominal value now. However, according to him, selling the vanilla crop at that time would make a farmer suddenly rich.
However, suddenly, vanilla prices fell. Some say, because farmers and suppliers are naughty.
They mix A quality vanilla with light vanilla. It is also said that there are dried vanilla pods injected with iron sand, so that they gain weight.
For farmers, the low price is not commensurate with the high cost and hassle of caring for vanilla, starting from plant care, mating vanilla, caring for pods, harvesting and post-harvest processing methods.
Cultivating vanilla causes people to have a special speech. “It’s a hassle like taking care of a baby,” said the farmer in Majenang, Cilacap Regency.
Many farmers then cut down the vanilla. In gardens, what remains of vanilla is a former plant that survived a deliberate extinction.
Perhaps, what remains of the vanilla is creeping, twisting, and silently hiding in the thick grove of shrubs or trees.
For more than 15 years, vanilla has fallen out of favor. It only complements the villagers’ gardens. Creeping in the fence of living gardens or trees.
The wheels keep turning, the times change. The fate of vanilla in recent years has improved.
In fact, in the world market the best quality dry vanilla reaches a price of IDR 7 million. At the farm level, vanilla is priced in the range of IDR 3.5 million to IDR 4.5 million.
The price of vanilla is improving and continuing to rise, true to its nickname, the green gold. It is said that the story is because the supply of vanilla in the world has decreased considerably.
“In my experience, every 10 years there must be a cycle of spice prices. Sometimes it is high, sometimes it suddenly falls,” said Ibnu.
Apart from cultivating vanilla, Ibnu does plant pepper, cubeb and several types of hardwood. According to him, the timber is also a medium and long-term investment, in addition to its function as shade and propagation.
Now, there are not too many vanilla in Ibnu’s garden. Vanilla should be shared with the cubeb and pepper.
It is estimated that the harvest will be in the range of 30 kilograms of wet vanilla or 3-4 kilograms if dried. You see, since two years ago, Ibnu has rejuvenated most of the vanilla plants that had been attacked by diseases or were no longer productive because they were old.
However, it is estimated that the vanilla harvest will increase the next year and the following year, according to the production of the vanilla plants, which now average two and one year old.
One of those who followed in Ibnu’s footsteps in cultivating vanilla was Rahmat, a resident of Sepatnunggal, Majenang. He knows vanilla from his elementary school teacher from Yogyakarta.
At that time, he said that many farmers cultivated vanilla. However, soon the price of vanilla fell and caused farmers to chop down the vanilla.
“The seeds I got were creeping in trees, left by my parents. I remember planting them again in gardens and yards,” said Rahmat.
He had tasted a high price, when the vanilla was purchased at a price of Rp. 300 thousand for A quality wet vanilla and Rp. 200 thousand for a lower quality vanilla.
Unfortunately, when you taste the sweetness of the vanilla price, the yard changes function. He founded a motorcycle and welding workshop.
Recently, four months ago, he also built a house, coinciding with his present workshop. The vanilla has also decreased a lot.
“I planted it again in the same garden as the yard. But now I’m still young, only three months old,” Rahmat said.
Farmers are starting to grow vanilla again. Perhaps it is in their hands that “Java Vanilla Beans” will once again be victorious in the world.
Source : Liputan6.com