Darizon is a cinnamon farmer, like his dad and grandfather and great grandfather. Until recently, he and many of the farmers in Sumatra's Kerinci Valley didn't know the destiny of the bark they harvested from the cinnamon trees. They just knew it was a good cash crop, one they could sit on like an investment, to be harvested and sold when the family needed cash for school, health care, or a new roof.
The Kerinci Valley makes a long, gradual descent from coffee-and-tea-growing flanks of the active Mt Kerinci down to humid, lowland rice fields. Kerinci Seblat National Park, one of the largest in Southeast Asia, encircles the valley, one of the most hospitable habitats left for the Sumatra tiger.
The cinnamon tree grows fast. After seven or eight years its bark can be harvested. When a cinnamon tree is cut down for the harvest, a new one typically makes a shoot from the stump.
Darizon still gathers cinnamon from the same forests his forefathers did, using a handful of family members to harvest and clean and a couple water buffalo to haul it out. Training workshops and economic incentives brought to the farmers through the newly established Cassia Co-op are teaching the farmers the value of their product and incentivizing cinnamon farmers to use clean practices and to harvest only from jungle outside the park boundary.
The craze over palm oil, Indonesia's equivalent to our ethanol, has already decimated native forests throughout Sumatra. The pressure continues to infringe upon Kerinci Seblat National Park. Hopefully, food-growing agriculture communities, coffee, tea commmodities and well-managed cinnamon cultivation can remain the dominant economy around Kerinci.
Executive Producers : Kristen Hansen and Marc Escobosa of Foodie TV
Director of Photography / Producer: Michael Hanson & David Hanson
Editor : Michael Hanson