A nice picture drew our attention to the July 29 front page article featuring the Rawa Belong flower market. An expo is expected to kick-start the flower buzz and lure tourists with a mix of Betawi folklore, colorful flowers and a donated computer.
Decent wishes! But how many farmers, suppliers, drivers, florists, dealers, workers and parking attendants can really live on an estimated turnover of US$200,000 (compiled from the figures in the report) per year? Can this system even absorb more dropouts and migrant workers?
In fact the Rawa Belong market nowadays is just of marginal importance to the flower trade in Jakarta. Florists and big hotels have their own flower farms in Puncak or have flowers delivered in refrigerated trucks. Exporters -- only a few -- send their merchandise right from the source to the airport.
It is a pity; Indonesia should be well positioned to have a flourishing flower industry. Biodiversity, rich soils, a range of climates, creative people and cheap labor in abundance would normally be an ideal breeding ground. Only one factor is lacking, a competitive open market system with accepted quality standards, applied by every participant.
Such a transparent marketing system would increase quality and volume of trade soon, create plenty of jobs for rural unqualified labor, generate income for various lines of businesses connected with the flower trade. The flower trade is less important in Indonesia, but globally it is a multibillion dollar industry.
Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso didn't address these issues. He preferred to catch sympathy with a nostalgic look back and a generation gift.
PT Agro Maju Exportindo
Tangerang, West Java