Padang, W Sumatra (ANTARA News) - West Sumatra was expected to diversify gambier (ingridient traditionally used in betel chewing, leather tanning and dyeing) as a raw material for medicines for diarrhea and oral ulceration as well as shampo, an expert has said.
Gambier growers should thus be encouraged to develop the commodity in an effort to increase West Sumatra province`s export quantity and quality, Chairman of the Centre for the Study of Medicinal Plants at the Andalas University, Prof. Amri Bahktiar, said here Sunday.
"Gambier as a raw material for drinks and anti-oxidant products against cigarette smokes and fumes of cars among other things needs to be developed," Amri said.
More than 80 percent of gambier to the world market hailed from West Sumatra whose main production centre is located in the 50 Koto district and the southern coastal area.
In 2002, West Sumatra produced 10,729 tons of gambier from a 17,800 hectare plot of land. The province exported the commodity to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore, Japan and the United States as well as Europe and the Middle East besides other countries in different parts of the world.
Meanwhile, Indonesia`s total export of gambier in 2003 was recorded at more than 5,178 tons valued at US$5,178,050. The biggest export with the volume of 4,875.988 tons was to India.
West Sumatra should pay special attention to gambier as one of its prime commodities, Amri said, adding that Indonesia is the biggest gambier producer in the world.
"The constraint being faced by West Sumatra in developing gambier is the poor processing technology as the commodity is still sold in a raw material, low quality and without diversification," he noted.
Gambier is used at home still as a raw material for betel chewing, leather tanning and dyeing substance in making batik clothes.