Ups and Downs Faced by Salt Farmers in Karawang

Salt farmers in Muarabaru Village, Cilemaya Wetan, Karawang Regency, often face obstacles, ranging from limited production equipment, decreasing selling prices, to the lack of buyers.

Manual production affects the quality of salt produced. The collectors prefer salt with better quality.
Manual production affects the quality of salt produced. The buyers prefer salt with better quality. (ACTNews/Ardiansyah)

ACTNews, KARAWANG – Sunan Aji is a salt farmer from Muarabaru, Cilayamaya, wetan, Karawang Regency. His harvested salt is still piling up in the warehouse. He explained that this season was difficult to sell raw salt. So, he decided to save it for a better price.

“During the season, the selling price is IDR 300-400 per kilogram. If I save it to be sold later, the price will reach IDR 700-1,000. And it can cover the operational costs. If not, I will lose because there are no buyers,” said Sunan Aji, Tuesday (4/6/2021).

Sunan has a 21-hectare salt pond. He works with eight other farmers. He has to pay eight salt farmers in a revenue-sharing system: about 60 percent for the farmers, and the rest for the owner.

This season, Sunan suffered losses because it was difficult to sell salt in the market. But he still has to pay other farmers. “ Sometimes, I also buy salt from my farmers because nobody buys it. I feel sorry for them because they have to feed their children,” he said. Currently, there are about 2,000 tons of raw salt in Sunan’s warehouse.

Sunan when met by the ACTNews Team. (ACTNews / Ardiansyah)

Sunan once offered his salt to the factory. Unfortunately, his salt lacks NaCl (sodium chloride), and the charcoal content is high. He suspected this occurs due to manual production.

“When making salt, I should use HDPE (production using a geomembrane). If I produce it manually, the quality of salt is low because the salt contains mud,” said Sunan.

He hoped that the quality of his salt production could increase. According to Sunan, good quality salt could encourage salt Farmers to produce more salt. 

Selling Price Becomes a Constraint

There are 200 salt farmers and 70-80 saltern owners in Muarabaru Village. This was revealed by Ahmad Fathoni. He is a Director of Village-Owned Enterprise (BUMDes) Berkah Samudera Tani Muara Baru Village.

BUMDes Berkah Samudera Tani buys salt from farmers in Muarabaru Village. This institution once had to buy above the market price when the price of salt was falling as an appreciation for salt farmers' hard work.

“We paid IDR 400 per kilogram while the collectors paid IDR 250. Because of that, the standard price of salt among collectors in Karawang rose to IDR400. This could happen even if we buy in one village only,” said Fathoni.

However, 1.5 months later the price fell again when BUMDes has spent their purchasing capital. Therefore, Fathoni hoped in the future there would be people who concern about the fate of salt farmers.

“We realize that BUMDes is not a powerful business entity in terms of capital. Hopefully, many parties outside will help stabilize the price. With the price stability, at least this is a hope for the salt farmers to improve their standard of living,” hoped Fathoni.[]