Jepara producers hone marketing skills during CIFOR’s annual meeting

The Jepara Small Scale Furniture Producers Association (APKJ) exhibited at CIFOR’s annual meeting for the second year running in October 2010. The nascent association is a key partner in CIFOR’s Furniture Value Chain project. APKJ practiced their ever-improving exhibiting and marketing skills while FVC project members demonstrated some of the research results and outreach materials produced thus far.

The ‘stars’ of the exhibit were the handcrafted wood products from Jepara a district in Central Java renowned for its furniture and woodcarving industries. Products on display included indoor and outdoor furniture, and carved decorative items – statues, calligraphy and bas-reliefs.

Participants told us that this small exhibit was much better than last year’s, especially for the members of the association. We expected this, since the FVC project held trainings for APKJ members on preparing exhibits and APKJ learned valuable lessons from previous exhibits.

Meeting participants also saw carving on the spot, both by hand and a particularly dextrous demo with a chain saw. Two master carvers from Jepara plied their artisanry in situ, Pak Sutrisno from Senenan village and Pak Legiman Arya from Mulyaharjo village, Jepara. In two days Pak Sutrisno carved an original plaque using CIFOR’s logo and a traditional flower pattern. Pak Legiman began carving a large statue with his trusty chainsaw, but work was delayed because of the noise and inclement weather.

Visitors to the booth and tent showed their enthusiasm with orders and immediate purchases, inspired by the Jepara pricing schemes. About 65% of the products brought were bought up by Indonesian and foreign customers alike. Foreigners preferred antiques and newly made outdoor furniture. Indonesian buyers went for typical indoor and outdoor items sold every day in Jepara.

Total sales from this expo were more than 7 million rupiah (~775 USD). These numbers do not include the orders taken for future deliveries, facilitated by the catalogues APKJ had produced.

The FVC project also promoted, an online shop that APKJ manages after receiving technical assistance to set it up from the FVC project. APKJ expects site usage to grow and help other small-scale furniture producers become more visible and accessible to domestic and foreign markets.