The glory of Indonesian spices on the international trade market cannot be separated from commodities that are so extraordinary, namely black pepper and white pepper. Some regions in the country such as Bangka-Belitung, Lampung, Central Kalimantan, and West Kalimantan have expanded the cultivation of this commodity to penetrate foreign markets. In the past four years, Indonesia's pepper export has shown a continuous increase. In 2017, Indonesia exported 33 million tons of pepper. One year later, the country recorded an increase in pepper exports of 10 million tons from various provinces in Indonesia.
Export Potential of Indonesian Pepper
The Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture keeps a record of all destination countries of Indonesia’s pepper export. It stated that Vietnam, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands, and the United States are the main importer countries of Indonesian peppers. Additionally, the government continues to negotiate through various channels to enable direct exports to India, Japan, and European countries. The issue of stagnancy in exports to the destination countries also received major attention from the government. Subsequently, the Indonesian government continues to find non-traditional markets for its pepper. Countries such as Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, and New Zealand have been identified as the new targets for Indonesia’s pepper exports. Export activities have also experienced various obstacles, such as having to go through a process of transit to several other countries before reaching their destination; direct shipment to the destination country is still difficult to do. To solve this issue, the Ministry of Agriculture is working closely with the Agricultural Quarantine Agency to create a more practical process flow for pepper exports. Boosting the potential of Indonesia's pepper exports will not be possible without the support of price stability. Several factors are influencing the price of pepper, among others, world pepper stock, the quantity of regional production in a country, and competition in production with other countries.
Pepper prices in Indonesia
Price fluctuation is a normal phenomenon experienced by any export commodities, pepper is no exception. In 2017, the price of black pepper reached IDR 121,000 per kilogram while white pepper scored even higher at IDR 157,000 per kilogram. One year later, the volume of Indonesia’s pepper exports grew by 11.5% from 42,600 tons in 2017 to 47,600 tons in 2018. Unfortunately, the price dropped at IDR 37,000 per kilogram for white pepper and IDR 22,000 per kilogram for black pepper in 2019. This sharp decline in the pepper price was attributed to the oversupply in the global market. On the other hand, the increase in customer’s consumption level was lower than the increase in pepper production that year, which means there was a disproportion between demand and supply. According to a record from the International Relations Division of the Indonesian Ministry of Trade, there was a 2% increase in consumption, which was smaller than the average annual increase of pepper production at 7%.
Nonetheless, it does not mean that the potential for pepper exports has vanished. In the period of January-April 2019, Indonesia exported 638 tons of pepper worth IDR 38,2 billion in 63 times of exports. Based on the record of the Head of the Agricultural Quarantine Agency, the traffic of pepper exports from Bangka-Belitung has gained access to 14 countries. This trend may continue to increase as long as farmers' productivity also increases and price stability is maintained.
Furthermore, the stability of pepper prices in Indonesia is also influenced by Indonesia’s strong relationship with other countries as part of the International Pepper Community (IPC). This organization consists of 6 world pepper producing countries, namely Brazil, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Indonesia. At least 73% of the world's pepper production is controlled by the IPC member countries. Thus, world pepper prices are also greatly influenced by the arrangements and agreements between these six countries. The IPC also plays an important role in creating and managing demand for pepper. It aims at expanding and maximizing the use of pepper beyond cooking. To do this, the IPC tries to facilitate the broadening of pepper processing variety to stimulate alternative use of pepper by larger customers.
The Productivity of Pepper Farmers
Farmers play a crucial role in the production of quality pepper. To improve their capacity, it is equally important to strengthen farmer institutions (e.g. farmer corporation) and introduce technology adaptation in their farming practice. An increase in farmers’ productivity will positively contribute to various economic and social aspects, among others, poverty alleviation, food security, and farmers’ income. Unfortunately, the production quantity has not shown a significant increase from year to year. In fact, data from the Sub-Directorate General of Pepper, Nutmeg, and Clove of the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture has shown a continuous decline in the pepper production from 2014 to 2018. Even if there was an increase in production, the amount was insignificant. For example, total pepper production in 2018 was 88,720 tons, only a slight increase from the previous 8 years (2010 production) of 83,660 tons. In its effort to solve this problem, Sub-Directorate General of Pepper, Nutmeg, and Clove introduced a concept of corporation to strengthen farmer institutions. It means that the farmers need to form or join a group with other farmers to increase their bargaining position. In the midst of the rapid flow of information in this digital era, the adaptation of technological innovation is equally interesting and useful to improve farmers’ productivity. Understanding this opportunity, SpiceUp has developed an application (http://spiceup.live/) that aims to increase farmers' income more effectively.
Dalam aplikasi mobile SpiceUp, ada 4 layanan utama yaitu:
- Fertilizer and Disease Prevention Recommendations.
- Irrigation Management Advices.
- Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).
- Sustainable Traceability System.
All services available in SpiceUp mobile application is developed based on information collected from satellite and field data. Thus, it is expected to help farmers to obtain agricultural advice, increase farm yield, and improve production quality. When the farmers have already been able to implement sustainable agricultural practices, it is expected that they will also be able to sell their peppers at a premium price, which is higher than the price they currently sell. SpiceUp mobile application will not only help the farmers to sell their products at a more favorable price but also support them to practice more sustainable production and consumption process. In the long run, these positive outcomes are expected to trigger broader impacts such as economic improvement, food security, decent employment, and poverty alleviation.