Pineapples on Peatlands

The Best Pineapple in Indonesia

If you are travelling along the highway from Palangkaraya to Buntok, then it is worth stopping along the way just to sample the famous ‘Parigi Pineapple’. Here, in the shallow peatlands surrounding Desa Pararapak and Desa Parigi in South Barito Regency, the successful cultivation of rubber trees intercropped with pineapples provides a good return for local farmers.

A culinary stop for the hardworking team
Desa Parigi has the most famous pineapples

Attracted both by the durian and the large pineapples on offer, our team stopped at a roadside stall in the hamlet of Dusun Danau Jutuh. Here, we met with Pak Tono (58 years old) a local farmer who was awarded ‘Best Pineapple in Indonesia’ by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2013.

Pak Tono won ‘Best Pineapple in Indonesia 2013’

Intercropping Pineapples with Rubber

Pak Tono explained that pineapples can either be grown in open fields or intercropped with rubber trees. “Pineapples grown in the open are yellow, while pineapples grown under rubber trees are slightly green,” Tono explained. “But both kinds can still be very sweet,” he added.

Rows of pineapples can intercrop under rows of rubber trees

According to Pak Tono, pineapples can grow on peat without fertiliser. “Just leave it alone and it will grow,” said Tono. “After 8 months, the plant will grow and start to bear fruit. In the 12th month, the farmers can harvest the fruit” he added. Based on his experience, the first fruit weigh in at around 2 kilograms. “But the second and third time the plant fruits, the pineapples will only weigh between 1 to 1.5 kilograms,” Tono explained.

Planting Without Burning

The pineapple understorey is planted without burning the land

Pineapple farmers in Danau Jutuh no longer burn their land. “All we need to do is dry the land and clear it of grass, and then we can plant pineapples. So there is no need to burn the land,” said Tono. Thus, in addition to providing significant economic benefits to farmers, pineapple agroforestry can also provide environmental benefits by helping to reduce the risk of forest fires.

Pineapple Profits

The Head of the Hamlet (Dusun), Tri Susanti, explained that 200 of the 1,300 residents of Dusun Danau Jutuh are pineapple farmers. “On average, each farmer has 5,000 square metres of land just for pineapples,” explained Tri Susanti. From this area, the average farmer will harvest 100 pineapples per week. “Our pineapples are sold to Muara Teweh and Palangkaraya, and on to other provinces such as East Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and even Java,” Tri Susanti explained. “Pineapples weighing 1 kilogram are priced at Rp 5,000 to Rp 7,000, while pineapples weighing 1.5 or 2 kilograms are priced at Rp 10,000 to Rp 15,000,” she added. In her calculations, a farmer who harvests 100 pineapples a week, can get a return of Rp 1,000,000 per week.

The fame of the ‘Parigi Pineapple’ has encouraged the South Barito District Government to register it as a regional superior commodity. Moreover, based on the results of research by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2013, the pineapples from Dusun Danau Jutuh have more nutritional content than most pineapples, namely more potassium (182.3 mg/100 g) calcium (24.2 mg/100 g) magnesium (24.9 mg/100 g) and vitamin C (16.9 mg/100 g).

Pineapple Products

Seeing greater potential for local processing, the Head of Dusun Danau Jutuh, Ibu Tri Susanti, formed the ‘UKM Lestari’ group in 2015 so that locals could learn to make their own pineapple products. “Our 10 members have learned to make syrup, dodol, and dried fruit for their family needs”, explained Tri Susanti, “We get guidance both on processing and sales”, she explained.

Trainings have included making pineapple chips, processing pineapple leaves into fabric fibres, making pineapple syrup, and others. In addition, the group has received some production machinery from the government. Now, the members produce pineapple syrup, jam, dried fruit, and dodol on a household scale. The price of products remains cheap. Pineapple dodol and dried fruit sell for Rp 7,000 per package, while pineapple syrup is Rp 5,000 for a 150 ml bottle. Pineapple jam costs Rp 15,000 per 500 grams. Meanwhile, pineapple chips cost Rp 10,000 per pack.

Ibu Tri Susanti with her range of pineapple products
These low-cost local products are both tasty and nutritious

Tri Susanti admits that the processed products of the Lestari SME Group are still mostly sold locally. Even so, she tries to reach a wider market by marketing online through social media and participating in MSME exhibitions held by the government. As a result, they are sometimes able to sell to consumers outside of South Barito, such as Muara Teweh, Palangka Raya, and other areas in Kalimantan. Thus, the Kelompok UKM Lestari plays an important role in driving the economy of the local community. Clearly, there is a need for greater recognition and support for such micro-enterprise groups, both from the government, the community, and business actors, so that they can continue to grow and provide economic benefits to surrounding communities.