Palm Oil Brown Sugar : “The Sweetener” from Palm Oil Trunk
The involvement of smallholder farmers in cultivating oil palm plantations began around the 1980s with the existence of various partnership patterns implemented by the government. Based on the economic age of oil palm, many of the smallholder oil palm plantations have entered old age and must be replanting. But in reality, there are many farmers who are constrained by the cost of rejuvenation in their oil palm plantations so the current condition is that there are still many smallholder oil palm plantations that are entering old age or even damaged. This condition, if left unchecked continuously, will hamper the national palm oil industry in the future, where demand for palm oil will continue to increase.
The government has tried to help the rejuvenation of smallholder oil palm plantations (Peremajaan Sawit Rakyat/PSR) by providing replanting funded by Palm Oil Fund Management Agency (BPDPKS) in the amount of Rp. 25 million. But the realization of this effort is still far from the target of PSR that set by the government of 185 thousan hectares. Meanwhile the realization of PSR only 34.6 thousand hectares in 2018 and 58.1 thousand hectrares in 2019. Therefore, farmers need other funding sources that can fulfill the funding requirements for the process of rejuvenation the oil palm plantation.
The potential funding source to sucesfull replanting of oil palm plantations is produce palm oil brown sugar. The old palm tree trunks that were cut down in the replanting process had the potential to produce roomie juice that could be processed into brown sugar. Oil palm trees that have been cut down can produce roomie juice for 30-40 days with a production of 5-7 liters per day. If the juice is processed into brown sugar, with a sugar yield rate of 20% – 30% so palm oil brown sugar can be produced from 1.2 to 1.75 kg / tree / day during the production phase of the juice.
According to Donald Siahaan is one of the scientist in Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute, the potential for palm palm sugar production is economically able to provide farmers with income of Rp 14.9 million per hectare. This calculation is based on the assumption that the business of producing oil palm sugar is carried out by a group of 10 farmers, each of whom has a 2 hectare plantation with a population of 120 palm trees per hectare. Each palm tree trunk is estimated to produce 5.5 liters of roomie juice for 30 days. So that during the production phase, 228 kg / ha / day of oil palm sugar can be produced.
The advantage of oil palm sugar is that it is healthier than other brown sugars because its constituent composition is sucrose so it does not cause diabetes. But the texture of oil palm sugar is not too hard and it tastes a little less sweet when compared to palm sugar from palm trees. Therefore, these smallholders who have started to cultivate oil palm sugar still mixing roomie juice from palm oil with 25 percent sugar in the production process to match the texture and taste of palm sugar. This is done to adjust to consumer preferences so that oil palm sugar can compete in the market.
With this potential income, smallholder oil palm farmers should see this as a source of funding for the rejuvenation process. This is because roomie juice is obtained from old oil palm trunks that have been cut down, which indeed must be cut down also when rejuvenating oil palm plantations. So it can be said that the process of producing oil palm sugar does not interfere with the technical rejuvenation carried out in the plantation. In fact, the extraction of oil palm roomie juice from trunks reduces attact of the hornbill beetles (Oryctes rhnoceros), which has often attacked rejuvenated oil palm.
The potential of palm sugar production must also be a concern of the government because so far Indonesia is still importing sugar. Oil palm sugar production can be a substitute for importing sugar so that it will save large amount of foreign exchange. If calculated with the rejuvenation assumption at the national oil palm plantations of 4 percent per year of the total area, the production of oil palm sugar can reach 2.5 million tons. With the great potential of oil palm sugar when combined with the production of sugar from other plants, Indonesia in the future can achieve the sugar self-sufficiency target.
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