Batik is a traditional way of decorating cloth using wax and tools to create patterns on the cloth before it is dyed in a variety of colours. The majority of Batik cloth and products in Indonesia are made in Java province, with the Riau province being better known for its weaving skills and products.
However, the Andalan Cooperative in Pangkalan Kerinci has spent the last four years training and encouraging local women in Pangkalan Kerinici to become batik makers to be able to independently earn extra income for their families.
Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP), a subsidiary of Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL), founded by entrepreneur and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto, (who also founded the Tanoto Foundation and is chairman of Pacific Oil & Gas) developed the Rumah Batik Andalan community project as a part of its Community Development program in 2013.
The Rumah Batik Andalan project
The Rumah Batik Andalan project started off with 50 participants in the early stages of the program, of which only 10 participants managed to succeed in finishing the program and become batik makers. Even after their training had finished, it took these 10 individuals months of hard work and practise to become efficient and master the art of making batik.
These 10 women now work at the Rumah Batik Andalan cooperative creating batik cloth from scratch, together creating up to 130 pieces of batik cloth every month.
Individually each woman can earn Rp 2.5 Million or more per month, depending on their production output. The additional income to her household has allowed Hari Fitri Ramdhani, one of the 10 women to finish the program, to buy her own house in Kerinci.
Besides funding and establishing the Rumah Batik Andalan program, RAPP’s Community Development program has provided funds to build a workshop for the production house, as well as a shop in Kerinci to sell the handmade batik cloth and batik products in.
The batik is mostly bought by RAPP guests as souvenirs and local administrators, staff of surrounding companies and a few locals. However RAPP and APRIL are putting large amounts of effort into promoting the local batik at national and international conventions. One of the latest conventions was the Pelalawan Expo in 2016, which is the largest annual event in the district, where the batik stand, drawing a large crowd, was a success.