An opportunity to preserve Indonesian forests

After decades of uncontested Chinese domination in konjac production, Indonesia started appearing on the international market of this fantastic hydrocolloid which, recently, has been included in the US FDA list of fibres (IMR newsletter, 2020). Cultivations as well controlled wild harvest are being started in mass in Java and others islands as Sulawesi, Lombok, etc.

Java Biocolloid after the first phase of processing controlled wild harvested konjac tubers, sold under the brand viscoILES, has taken into consideration the welfare of the farmers living on the slopes of Indonesian volcanoes, and started incentivizing the cultivation of the Amorphophallus konjac (locally called porang or iles-iles). On top of providing the local population with an additional source of income it is a way to protect the pristine forests since the konjac plant needs the shadow of the majestic tree canopies.

The first investment of 20,000 USD was done in 2019 for the purchase of around 1,200 kg of konjac seedlings in the regency of Pasuruan, Jawa Timur. An estimated area of 10 hectares of rural forest under the management of the farmers’ cooperative has been evaluated as a starting project for konjac “wild” cultivation, with an ambitious target reaching 100 hectares within the next 5 years and expanding to 1000 hectares in the next 10 years with an estimate total investment of 500,000 USD that include seedlings, farmer training, transportation chain and social responsibility.

The project under the supervision of Mr. Mc Donny Watad Nagasan has started to take shape and the first konjac plants are growing robust and healthy. The first harvest is scheduled for 2022 and we hope this project will become an example for Indonesian farmers to cultivate this plant and preserving the biodiversity of the forests.