“Harvesters have shown remarkable resilience by turning to furniture-making for domestic markets, which act as a buffer providing them with an alternative source of income,” explains Ahmad Dermawan, a former scientist with the Center for International Forestry Research and World Agroforestry (CIFOR-ICRAF) who has investigated rattan supply chains in Central and Southeast Sulawesi and in Central Kalimantan.
To realize the economic potential of domestic markets and ensure they are both profitable and sustainable, he says, subnational governments can support the sector in two crucial ways: by building the capacities of smallholders as craftsmen and businesspeople, and by systematically monitoring local trade flows to understand who produces what, where.
To understand current rattan value chains, and what they mean for the livelihoods of smallholders, the researcher conducted household surveys, key informant interviews and focus group discussions across 14 villages and seven subdistricts, reflecting a variety of perspectives in production and trade—in Kalimantan, rattan mostly comes from gardens, whereas in Sulawesi it is harvested from natural forests.
He also interviewed subnational government representatives to shed light on the policy environment at the provincial and district levels. What he found has implications for both local livelihoods and the future of rattan yields across the islands.