Memorable Interaction with Artisan

“As long as there are people buying my anjat (rattan baskets), I will never ever sell my rattan garden!”, Mantan said when we did forest walk in her village during PGS Rattan[1] fieldwork.

ibu Mantan2( Bu Mantan in rattan garden )

Mantan is one of BUR artisans (Dayak Benuaq rattan artisans group in Eheng village, East Kalimantan, Indonesia) who still maintain her rattan garden. For Mantan and other Dayak Benuaq artisans, rattan is more than just a livelihood but also an essential part of their culture. Through their traditional knowledge, they take good care of the forest by sustainable management of the rattan resource.

The Dayak Benuaq are among the few producers that cultivate rattan in groves, or usually they call them rattan gardens. When we did the forest walk, it was clear that they do know how to harvest and manage their rattan garden sustainably. They allow rattan seedlings to regenerate, they make sure that they harvest in a way that only mature rattan is cut and they plant rattan regularly!

And it is not only rattan! During the walk, besides rattan, we were able to find (and eat!) different kinds of forest fruits that grow within the groves. Mantan also said that she rarely gets sick. When she is feeling unwell, she rarely goes to the doctor, she just goes to her rattan garden. She showed me a local tree in the garden called kayu belayan, she cut the stem then told me to drink the water that came from it. She said that water from kayu belayan is good for the immune system.

It was very interesting to see what was available within her rattan garden, and moreover to see how Mantan is very knowledgeable about everything within the garden. Unfortunately, nowadays, rattan gardens like Mantan’s have declined due to the low selling price of rattan. The sale of raw rattan is banned from sale outside Indonesia which has depressed the prices immensely. The local industry cannot absorb all of Indonesia’s rattan. Thus, some of the rattan gardens in the district have been abandoned and have even been converted into other land uses.

ibu Mantan's garden

Bu Mantan’s rattan garden

PGS rattan is an effort to support communities by providing incentives for their good rattan forest management practices through a participatory certification mechanism. It operates outside the frame of third party certification, which is why PGS become a viable option for NTFPs such as rattan that is harvested and managed often on the basis of traditional community knowledge. Hopefully, this can continue to encourage Mantan and all artisans to keep taking good care of the forest as an integral part of their culture!




[1] PGS Rattan or ROLES (Sustainable Rattan in the Indonesian language- Rotan Lestari) is a project launched by NTFP-EP and partners to certify rattan through a PGS scheme.

PGS (Participatory Guarantee Systems) are locally focused quality assurance systems that certify producers based on active participation of stakeholders and are built on a foundation of trust, social networks and knowledge exchange.