TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Johan Alexander Supit, chairman of the Indonesian Tea Traders Association (Aspegtindo), said the country is seeing an ongoing decline in tea production. "During the war era we were at the third place. Now we are down to number ten," Johan said in Jakarta Monday, September 1, referring to Indonesia's position as a global tea producer.
Johan said the national tea production slumped because there is no coordination between farmers and traders. In addition, many tea farmers are turning to plant fruits. Now, Johan said, Indonesia produces 120,000 tons of tealeaves annually. Of the volume, 80,000 tons are exported, generating US$1 billion in foreign exchange.
"Indonesian tea is marketed to Europe, the Middle East, and Russia," he said.
Lately, however, Indonesia's tea export value is lower than the United States. Johan said that the US has no tea plantations, yet they can book some US$25 billion from tea exports.
Indonesia's income from tea trade also continues to decline compared to several decades ago, when exports volume could reach up to 200,000 tons.
Andrew Supit, member tea company Sariwangi AEA's board of commissioners, said Indonesia now has to resort to importing tea for domestic needs. Some beverages factories in Indonesia are importing tea from Vietnam, Africa, and Argentina, by as much as 30,000 tons per annum.
HUSSEIN ABRI YUSUF