Salt farmers in Santing village, Losarang district, in the West Java regency of Indramayu were grateful for the scorching heat as they restarted salt production on their plots of land after more than a year.
Some of them were hoeing 10-by-10 meter plots, while others were making the waterways and fixing windmills to pump the water into the fields.
Before watering the fields, the farmers flatten the land using drums they made themselves from cement and bamboo. A flat surface is necessary for the farmers to cultivate salt.
Later, they will water the fields using the self-made windmills, estimating the appropriate volume of water. The sun will then dry the land for seven days. Once the water evaporates, it leaves behind white crystals. The farmers cultivate the salt and sell it.
Thanks to limited supply of salt in the domestic market – because of the high rainfall intensity earlier this year – the salt farmers have been enjoying high prices of their products lately. Their production is not even enough to meet demand at local markets in Indramayu.
The farmers have set the selling price at Rp 3,000 (US$ 23 cents) per kilogram for standard quality, with the superior quality priced at Rp 4,000 per kg. The prices are 10 times as high as last year, when farmers sold at Rp 300 per kg.
While the farmers are benefitting from the high price of salt, the salted fish industry has been hit hard. Small-scale producers are struggling to afford the salt, and some of them have had to close down their businesses.
The salt farmers, however, still voiced concerns over the government’s plan to import salt, as they are afraid the policy will bring the price down, thus lowering their income. The farmers have expressed their hope that government policies will protect their livelihoods. [yan]