THE SUGAR PRODUCTION FACILITY
Masarang is expanding its sugar production facilities to other parts of Indonesia. The first facility outside of Sulawesi island was opened in November 2015, not far from Sintang city, in West Kalimantan. In order to help as many farmers as possible plans are in place to build more of these units in other parts of Indonesia. Even though there are thousands of Arenga Pinnata trees around the production facility, until recently, the farmers had not tapped into their potential. Most locals were unaware of the possible source of income from the Arenga Pinnata and the knowledge of tapping these trees was not widely known in the area. Now that a production facility is in place, all farmers in the region have a place to go with their sugar juice and receive on the spot payment, every day, in many cases increasing the farmers’ income by 200-300%.
Harvesting the Juice
Farmers use a special technique for tapping sugar from the Arenga Pinnata. Tappers, take a small wooden mallet and slowly hit the trunk of the palm above and below the stem of the flower head (inflorescence) for several minutes a day whilst also swinging the inflorescence. Bracts are removed from the inflorescence stalk just as the flowers start to open. The clean stalk is then slowly beaten for several minutes each day, for about 2 or 3 weeks until the stalk becomes swollen. The stalk is then cut at the swollen section and the sap is collected daily in a bamboo pipe or other container.
Making The Sugar
This facility has a very different setup compared to the sugar factory in Tomohon. There is no geothermal energy in West Kalimantan, so a solution was developed whereby tappers could cook their juice as quickly and efficiently as possible. So we built 20 fuel efficient rocket stoves which we placed in the middle of the forest close to the Arenga Palms. Waste wood is used as a heat source for cooking the juice, which is stirred in large pans until it becomes a syrup with about 30-70% sugar content. The sugar syrup is then cooked further in large cooking pans, until it becomes sugar or it is poured in moulds to make sugar blocks.