One Day – Sayu Putri

teak bali,, bali teak farms

Tree lover Sayu Putri is on a quest to restore teak to Bali, where most of the island’s teak forests have disappeared. The 26-year-old teacher and owner of Bali Teak Farms shared her day, and her vision, with Bali Times contributor Bagus Ferriyanto.

My day begins as the sun is coming up at 6am, and I get myself ready for work. For breakfast I have orange juice and cheese bread that I buy at Bali Deli.

I start teaching at 8am at Sekolah Perhotelan Bali (The Bali Hotel School), but it only takes me 15 minutes to drive there in my Suzuki Escudo from my house.

I teach English there from Monday to Friday, for at least six hours a day and to 90 students. I’m also in charge of international and local affairs, if, for example, students want to apply for internships abroad, in Singapore, the United States and at hotels in Bali.

Lunch is on campus, and sometimes students have had cooking class, so we have what they made. I like European food the most.

School is over at 4pm, and I’ll go do some yoga and meet with the Bali Export Development Organization. I may have to give private Indonesian and Balinese lessons, too.

I’ve been working on the Bali Teak Farms project for three years now, mostly on the weekends. It’s in Jelantik (Baturiti), just 15 minutes before Bedugul in Tabanan. At first it was just a hobby, and I started with 3 are and 50 trees. Now we have 2 hectares of land with 3,000 trees. I’m so impressed at how fast it’s grown over the years. Most of the trees are mine, but some belong to foreign clients, from Italy, Australia and the United States. I lease land to expand the business, and that’s the biggest cost factor.

The idea behind the farms is to have more teak trees growing in Bali, and then to be able to sell the wood – if the owners want to. For those who want to plant a tree, we charge just Rp300,000 (US$32.76), which includes the lease of the land for 20 years or more.

My family helps me manage the farms, and now we also have around 10 local workers. After three years, our teak trees have reached a height of between 8 and 10 meters. When they’re 10 or 15 years old, it will be harvest time, but we recommend that they be allowed to grow at least to 20-25 years, and to replant what they are cut. It costs Rp1.5 million to maintain 100 trees per year, and we use all organic products to assist in the growing process. Our trees grow fast and are well-maintained.

For me this is a new development in Bali, a departure from the traditional use of land for growing rice and vegetables. It’s rare in Bali to have something like this. It’s not difficult, though, and I bring modern techniques to the project.

I’d like to expand the farms and have the wood and project certified by the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) so we could invite more people to take part in it. If we want to sell to the international markets, we have to have all the proper certifications – this is especially true in Europe and in the USA, which are very particular about the import of timber from abroad. Apart from that, I want to take a course in plantation management.

I also want to support local industry, so that they can get their wood from me, knowing the supply comes from a farmed, sustainable source. It’s good to know where you source your raw materials, and projects like Bali Teak Farms will help reduce illegal logging. Eco tourism is also a possibility at the farms, where visitors can also come for day visits, have picnics and enjoy some local food.

Helping the local community is important to me, and I help the less-well-off by giving them blankets, as it gets quite cold in the area the farms are in. One of my ideas is to get the children involved in the trees – is a good investment: as they get older, so do the trees, and eventually they would own them and if they want to, they can sell them for timber when they’re finished growing.

As for me, I plan to cut down the trees in a sustainable way, replanting new ones as I cut the older ones that I own.

The community is very supportive of our teak farms; the people are delighted that I established the project there. For some, it’s an opportunity to work, so they don’t have to travel to the city looking for employment.

I get home around 9 or 10 at night and have dinner somewhere in Seminyak, sometimes at the Kaizan Japanese restaurant on Jl. Oberoi. Other times I cook spaghetti at home. Later I’ll watch a DVD movie, before turning in for the night. My life is easy and free and I’m driven by wanting to grow my business.

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