The erratic weather has tobacco farmers in Boyolali, Central Java, worried. July should have still been a dry season, but rain started pouring and when it is wet, their harvests could fail. The tobacco leaves grown on the foot of Mt. Merbabu would be too wet for harvest if the rain continues.
But a glimmer of hope appeared when several days went by without any rain. They decided to hold “tungguk tembakau,” which means tobacco picking, on Aug. 3, to send thanks to God for the beginning of harvest season in Senden village, Selo district.
Tungguk tembakau has been a tradition through generations, but for the first time in August, it gave new meaning. The ritual, meant to be an individual one, instead had farmers and villagers presenting local performances with messages rooted in local wisdom.
A mountain of tobacco leaves was paraded and carried to the graves of ancestors and the farmers feasted together while hoping for a good harvest that would fetch a good price. The farmers worried that the wet dry season would affect the quality of the tobacco.
“I hope the tobacco prices don’t drop,” Ngatinem said. Last harvest season, she said, tobacco dried leaves were sold at Rp 16,000 (US$1.21) per kilogram and dried chopped leaves at Rp 80,000. [evi]