Global furniture manufacturers are using more artificial rattan in their products amid a tight supply of the material's naturally occurring equivalent, the Association of Furniture and Craft Industry (Asmindo) said Monday.
Asmindo chairman Ambar Tjahyono said artificial rattan, which is made of plastic, accounted for 35 percent of all global furniture containing rattan.
"In the last four years, the demand for furniture made of artificial rattan has been very high despite its higher price compared to those of the natural kind," he said.
Natural rattan producers, he added, should immediately raise production in order to be able to take advantage of the high price of artificial rattan and the rising demand for the commodity in the international market.
He said the supply of natural rattan for local furniture manufacturers had declined due to the trade ministry's regulation in 2005 which allowed for rattan exporting.
The association said as of the end of last year, the material's scarcity had bankrupted 144 out of 426 furniture firms in Cirebon, West Java, where the majority of rattan centers are located, and that more would follow.
The central statistics agency showed a drop in rattan exports last year to US$219 million from $343 million in 2006.
Industry Minister Fahmi Idris said the government would establish new rattan centers to compliment those in Cirebon.
The new centers are set to be built in Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, Central Sulawesi, Aceh and Papua. JP/Novia D. Rulistia