Ruslan Sangadji, The Jakarta Post, Palu
The Palu administration plans to make the city a rattan industry center by establishing a school and a technical supervisory unit for rattan craftsmen.
Palu supplies 50 to 60 percent, or 50,000 to 60,000 tons of rattan, for national trade, an official said.
Indonesia supplies 80 percent of the world's demand for rattan raw material, mostly to Asia, America and Europe.
"This is a good chance for Palu to compete in the international rattan trade," Palu Mayor Rusdy Mastura told The Jakarta Post.
He said his administration would work to make Palu a national rattan center in the near future.
Data from the Palu Cooperatives, Trade and Industry Agency shows that Central Sulawesi has 12 special types of rattan.
Rusdy said Palu produced high quality rattan because the soil there contained a large amount of silicate, which made the rattan more flexible.
In order to make Palu a rattan center, the administration has opened the Kriya Rotan school and sent five teachers to Cirebon, West Java, to learn more about processing rattan for furniture.
The Palu administration also has made an agreement with all stakeholders to establish a Palu Technical Supervisory Unit.
The unit will provide rattan processing machines, training and an education program, as well as a trade facility.
To support rattan processing, the administration will also build two factories and a warehouse.
Head of the planning unit for the Cooperatives, Trade and Industry Agency, M. Fatih, said the administration was encouraging rattan craftsmen to concentrate their business on finished products from home industries or small-scale factories.
Fatih said Cirebon had been successful in developing its rattan trade due to a focus on home industries.
To ensure product quality, the Palu administration will also serve and guide rattan craftsmen in improving their skills.
To achieve this goal, the administration will hold training workshops to cover several specialty areas such as rattan design, manufacturing and preservation.
"We have made an agreement with the Cirebon administration to send instructors here, and they will teach the local rattan craftsmen to provide them with new skills and better ways (to craft rattan).
"We hope by establishing the Technical Supervisory Unit, the local craftsmen will be able to increase their knowledge, as well as their incomes," Rusdy said.