Sun, 15 Jun 2003

Salt, the seasoning of life

Text and photos by Muhammad Solihin

The roaring sound of machinery from inside a simple wooden house breaks the silence of Mundu Pesisir fishing village in Cirebon, West Java.

The hive of activity in the house is in contrast to the rest of the village, whose men, kept on shore by gusty winds and high seas, fix spend their free time fixing their boats and nets.

Inside the house, 35-year-old Bahir and 10 other women work from morning to night under the dim light from a naked bulb. The small, stuffy room is where they process salt that will eventually find a place in homes across the country.

With the addition of iodine to the salt, which provides health benefits, especially for developing children, their product will fetch a higher price in the market than unprocessed salt. However, it must also compete with counterfeit iodized salt still to be found across the country.

Although it's a cottage industry and not the villagers' main source of income, it provides a valuable source of supplemental income when the boats must remain at anchor.