One of the local genius of Bali is a palm like plant called Salak which grows well in the area of Sibetan, Nongan and Batusesa village which are close to interesting places for tourist such as Candidasa Beach and Besakih Temple. Candidasa has been developed into accommodation centers where can be found various hotels and bungalows. Salak is one of tropical plantation that can produce round to conical fruits shape. The fruits are in a bunch of 10 to 20 pieces. During the fruits season one tree can give 3 to 5 bunches. The skin of fruit consist of overlapping brown conical to triangle scales with delicious white meat and one seed inside. The family name of this plantation is Arecaceae, the Indonesian name is Salak which is in English called Snake fruit due to its hard skin looks like snake skin pattern and the species name is Salacca Edulis. Salak is one of Indonesian original fruits and it also grows it in Thailand.
Why it is called “SNAKEFRUITS”? Because the fruit covered by brown scales look like snake skin pattern with thorns. For well mature fruits, the thorn itself will come off easily but when the fruit is still young the thorns glue on the scale strongly for natural protection. It is prohibited to touch young fruit directly by hand as the thorns are sharp and may injure easily. It is very easy to identify when the fruit well mature, by just seeing from the thorns, colour and fruit smell. Good fruits are ready to be harvested if the thorns have come off, and the color changed from brown to yellowish, and radiating nice smell.
Specific Character Salak is palm family that have leaves’ shape the same as coconut trees, but the trunk itself could not grow up as high as the other palm family. It only reaches 1 meters height from the land and if any strong wind blowing, the main trunk will fall down to the land again. The good fruits are usually produced when the trunk reaches between 10 upto 20cms length.
The fruit and leave holder are covered by thorns, so during harvesting time, the farmer has to be extra careful to take out the ripe fruit from its trunk. One who do not use to walk among Salak plantations is not allowed to do so, as it is very dangerous if the thorns are unintentionally touched it can easily tear the skin or even deep injury. If the thorns do not penetrate deep, its can be taken out by using safety pin but in case the thorn number are too much they must be brought to the doctor to get assistance and event the operation if necessary. Don’t try to walk if you don’t have an experience or self-confident to do it.
Good land for growing this species (Salacca Edulis) must qualify the following conditions :
Highland between 700 up to 1000 above sea level Sunshine between 50-70%. Temperature between 18 – 25 degrees Celcius Soil pH between 5-7 Enough water circulation Terraced land is the best to grow these Salak plantations. Land get circulation of the wind also add good factor for well growing. In Bali there is plenty of land still suitable for growing salak, with fastest production time of around 4 years after planting with good care.
Quality Classification In Indonesia, we have three famous variations of the fruits based on the area of growing :
* Salak Pondoh grows in Yogyakarta. The fruits are very famous in Java and is exported to another country. The price per 1 Kg is around Rp 5000,-at the farmer (producer).
* Salak Manonjaya grows in Tasik Malaya, exactly at Manonjaya district, central Java. The fruits are only consumed by local people and sold locally around Java island. The price per 1 kg is around Rp 4000, at the farmer.
* Salak Bali, the famous one is Salak Gula Pasir ( White Sugar Salak ) which is planted at eastern part of Bali, exactly from Sibetan village to Rendang village, Kabupaten Karangasem.
The plantation grows well here as all those villages are located between 800 – 1000 above sea level and also the land at these areas is very fertile after Mount Agung Eruption in 1963. The lava of eruption has made the land become fertile. The wind circulation is consistent which results good quality fruits. Good Salak Bali is only produced in Karangasem Regency and become main products compared to other agricultural products. Sibetan village has the most popular fashion fruits of this kind in Indonesia. If one visit Bali, Salak is the first choice for souvenir , although it is actually intra-insular trading of this fruit is already well established especially shipment from Bali to big cities in Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara. Since a decade, Salak is also a commodity for export especially to Singapore. The demand is big, but the quality required can not meet the growing need. Without special preservation the fruit under normal climate in tropical country like Bali can stay for 2 weeks, while under temperature of 10 degree Celcius can stay for 3 weeks and in a freezer can stay for 1 month or more.
The main harvesting time will be every six month. The farmer can harvest it’s fruits, exactly during rainy seasons in December, January, February, March to April every year. The best harvesting time will be falling in January to February. Each bunch of fruits consist of two or three fruit holders and have the weight around 2,5 to 3 KGS.
Normally the buyer come directly to the farmers or their land to negotiate the price. Some time, they can get better price in the farmer directly compared to buying from wholesaler, but with this way actually the end-costs will be higher compared to buy from local wholesaler, since the cost of labor in harvesting, transporting from the land to the nearer truck parking, sorting, and others. Normally the labor coming from other areas, in this case they will use this as their bargaining power get higher pay. It will be quiet different if they are asked by local people to work, they will not play the costs, since it is like a contract that everyday and everyone know what will be the costs if local people employ other people for hourly, half day or full day. For the big buyer, it is suggested to deal with local collector at the first hand producer or Koperasi Petani (Farmer Co-operation) to get better price and also the quality of the fruits more fresh if the buyer want to resell it again to another island or exporting to another country such as Singapore, Malaysia, Australia and etc. So that the buyer only needs the costs of packing and transporting from the village to the staffing place or consolidating place with other consignments.
For export quality, we have to select the fruits first into 3 categories :
* Class A, diameter of the fruits around 5-6 cms
* Class B, diameter of the fruits around 4-5 cms
* Class C, diameter of the fruits around 3-4 cms
For export, the best one in Class A, and Class B for intra-insular and Class C normally sold locally to be processed into fresh juice drink and if using high technology the fruit itself can produce wine the same like the other fruits such us : grave, apple and other. In developing country, like Indonesia the problem of this processing is the availability of suitable technology. Therefore, we believe that gradually in the future we can produce the Salak Wine because the fruit itself containing high glucose that is good element for fermentation process. Wine with high alcoholic percentage can be produced from this type of fruit. This is a great opportunity if any one want to invest in producing salak wine, a big market is waiting in Bali only as the tourism destination, while during harvesting time of salaks there are so many, around 2% of total harvest were thrown by the farmer since it is only Class C and lower. This Class C has the same taste, but the only size is the smallest. When I spoke with wholesaler in Karangasem how they pack this fruit before sending to another island, I got information as below : In dry condition, the fruit can stay at least 2 weeks. Enough wind circulation in the packing boxes. The good boxes are made from Bambu basket local name is Keranjang Bambu. Banana leafs used for wrapping fruits to avoid any damage during shipment, any cushioning system is possible, depending on materials availability.