Wasti Atmodjo , Contributor , Denpasar | Mon, 09/08/2008 10:59 AM | Bali
Denpasar farmers recently established the Market Farmers’ Association (Aspartan), aiming to expand the market for local agricultural products.
To mark the establishment of the association, on the weekend the group organized a two-day Farmers’ Market in the parking lot east of Puputan Margarana Square, Renon.
The market comprised 50 stalls, selling various agricultural products including processed goods.
These products gained favorable responses from invited guests who came from the hotel, restaurant and supermarket industries.
Products included fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers. Processed products ranged from soy bean milk and crackers, to fish meatballs and Daluman traditional beverage (made from a leaf extract). Also available were various herbal medicines and eco-friendly fertilizers.
One popular stall which attracted a large group was one selling traditional Balinese cakes, including Nusa Penida’s unique ledok porridge.
The market organizers also presented several on-site demonstrations on how to process agricultural products. For example, how to turn corn into ice cream.
Aspartan’s Denpasar chapter head I Made Sutikna said by expanding and establishing new marketing opportunities, the market and the association would assist farmers to marketing their products.
Fifty farmers’ groups had reportedly agreed to join the association so far.
Aspartan was established as part of a nation-wide government program, Sutikna said.
“It’s a new program. Denpasar Aspartan is the second chapter after the Papua chapter was established a few weeks ago,” she said.
Despite being an offspring of a government program, Sutikna stressed that Aspartan was an independent organization.
In order to introduce the association to a wider consumer base, Aspartan would organize a Farmers’ Market on a monthly basis at different sites, including schools.
“A permanent site for the Farmers’ Market would certainly increase our ability to market members’ products,” he added.
The Denpasar administration welcomed the suggestion. Both the city’s secretary, Made Aryana, and head of Bali’s Agriculture Agency, Badra Wisnaya, said they could help the association to get a permanent space for its weekend markets.
“We are still deliberating this subject. We plan to provide the association with a vacant lot next to Renon police station,” Aryana said.
Puputan Margarana Square has become a popular tourist destination and favorite place for Denpasar residents to do their morning and afternoon exercise.
The addition of a farmers’ market, Aryana said, would make the area a more complete public destination.
The city administration, he said, would also allocate a significant amount of soft loans to members of the association.
The establishment of the association also drew enthusiastic responses from farmers and agriculture experts.
Senior lecturer at Udayana University’s Faculty of Agriculture and head of Bali Organic Association (BOA), Luh Kartini, expected the association and markets would strengthen the farmers’ position.
“The association should be able to shorten the distribution chain for agricultural products. In doing so, farmers will get the best prices for their products and consumers will get the best prices (for goods),” she said.
BOA provides training and assistance to numerous villages that are developing organic farming in Bali.
Ratnawati, representing the island’s largest supermarket chain Tiara Dewata, said her company was willing to assist the association by marketing its members’ products.
“It has became our commitment (to help local farmers). In fact, we have reached a stage where we are ready to place the products of organic farming on our shelves,” she said.
“The farmers have agreed to supply us with these products, but still need more time to ensure their ability to provide us with a stable, continuous supply.”