Ke­cipir: An E- com­merce Site for Or­ganic Food in In­done­sia

Indonesia Expat - - NEWS - By Hans Roose­boom For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www.ke­cipir.com

There are three key el­e­ments to con­sider when mak­ing the choice of whether to buy or­ganic food in In­done­sia: health, taste and price.

Health: As far as the lesser preva­lence of pes­ti­cides, syn­thetic fer­til­iz­ers, sewage sludge and ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied or­gan­isms is con­cerned, the an­swer is def­i­nitely that or­ganic food is health­ier than con­ven­tional agro- prod­ucts, ad­vo­cates will say.

Taste: Taste is im­por­tant but gen­er­ally no­tice­able only once the pro­duce has been pro­cessed. The dif­fer­ence be­tween in­dus­try-baked white sand­wich bread and nat­u­rally fer­mented whole­meal loaves is a clear ex­am­ple. Well, ob­vi­ously not every­one agrees.

Price: Un­for­tu­nately, or­ganic food is pricier than the con­ven­tional va­ri­ety.

How then can con­sumers be sure that the or­ganic la­bel at­tached to the prod­uct is ver­i­fi­ably cor­rect to jus­tify a higher price?

In­done­sia’s or­ganic reg­u­la­tions stip­u­late that fruits and veg­eta­bles are grown with­out the use of pes­ti­cides, syn­thetic fer­til­iz­ers, ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied or­gan­isms or ion­is­ing ra­di­a­tion. An­i­mals that pro­duce meat, eggs and dairy prod­ucts are not to be given an­tibi­otics or growth hor­mones.

To be cer­ti­fied, the In­done­sian sys­tem more­over re­quires that the soil of or­ganic farms is tested ev­ery year for residue of pes­ti­cides. And only when the soil has been de­clared pes­ti­cide-free for three con­sec­u­tive years are the prod­ucts al­lowed to be la­belled ‘or­ganic’.

Un­for­tu­nately, short of grow­ing the veggies your­self, it’s dif­fi­cult to feel to­tally con­fi­dent about the source. Wrongly la­belled items do oc­cur fairly of­ten – by one es­ti­mate not more than one in five of the prod­ucts of­fered as or­ganic in the lo­cal su­per­mar­kets de­serves this la­bel. In many cases, the la­bel, rather than an of­fi­cial cer­tifi­cate, is noth­ing more than the word ‘or­ganic’ on the price tag.

A con­ve­nient short­cut to solv­ing the prob­lem of the true or­ganic clas­si­fi­ca­tion of fruits and veg­eta­bles is of­fered by the e- com­merce com­pany Ke­cipir.

Es­tab­lished on Earth Day, April 22, 2013, Ke­cipir of­fers or­ganic pro­duce from its own su­per­vised grow­ers. Not only do they bring fresh in- sea­son or­ganic pro­duce to con­sumers in Jakarta and sur­round­ing cities – Tangerang, Bekasi and Bo­gor – they have also set a de­vel­op­men­tal goal.

Ke­cipir as­sists farm­ers in achiev­ing cer­ti­fied, or­ganic stan­dards through train­ing pro­grammes in or­ganic till­ing, while also pro­vid­ing a mar­ket at guar­an­teed prices for the pro­duce. The com­pany has thus po­si­tioned it­self as buyer at farm gate and as re­tailer, while tak­ing care of in-be­tween steps of trans­port­ing and sort­ing of the prod­ucts.

Farm­ers in Ke­cipir's or­bit are ei­ther fully cer­ti­fied or­ganic or on their way to be­ing cer­ti­fied.

Three types of or­ganic la­bels are used in its sys­tem:

•A – Cer­ti­fied or­ganic in ac­cor­dance with the In­done­sian cer­ti­fi­ca­tion sys­tem de­scribed above.

•B – Uncer­ti­fied but close to cer­ti­fied sta­tus. For ex­am­ple, where the residue free sta­tus of the soil is more than two years but less than three.

•C – Grown pes­ti­cide-free but with traces of pes­ti­cides re­main­ing in the soil.

The C-la­bel is used as en­cour­age­ment. Farm­ers that have started on the or­ganic path are given a small price in­cen­tive, although true cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is still a few years off.

“The ques­tions re­main. Why bother with all of this? Is it not eas­ier to just buy the or­ganic prod­ucts from the ap­pro­pri­ate shelf in the many su­per­mar­kets?”

Ke­cipir claims to visit and check its farm­ers fre­quently.

Cur­rently, some 30 farm­ers with a to­tal of 100 hectares are in­volved in the sup­ply chain and the size of the in­di­vid­ual farms ranges from 0.5 to 30 hectares. The smaller ones are sur­rounded by a buf­fer zone.

Farm­ers in­form Ke­cipir about the type and vol­umes of prod­ucts that will be avail­able the fol­low­ing week. Prod­ucts are har­vested be­tween 3 pm and 8 pm and are trans­ported, sorted and pack­aged that same night. The next morn­ing, the prod­ucts are ready for sale to con­sumers. Con­sumer thus re­ceive their veggies within less than 24 hours af­ter har­vest­ing.

Ke­cipir is an e- com­merce re­tailer. The prod­ucts are not avail­able in es­tab­lished shops but ex­clu­sively sold through agents listed on its web­site. The num­ber of agents in Greater Jakarta is cur­rently around 150.

Con­sumers who are mem­bers of the Ke­cipir e- com­merce sys­tem or­der from the list of avail­able foods on the com­pany’s web­site and col­lect their or­ders on the spec­i­fied day. Peo­ple in West Jakarta and Tangerang can col­lect on Mon­days and Thurs­days. Those in South, Cen­tral and East Jakarta, as well as Bekasi, can col­lect on Tues­days and Fri­days.

When reg­is­ter­ing in the sys­tem, con­sumers are as­signed an agent, usu­ally the one clos­est to their home, but chang­ing agents is pos­si­ble. Or­ders can be picked up be­tween 9 am and 5 pm from their re­spec­tive agents. Pay­ments are made by bank trans­fer, credit or debit card, cash- on- de­liv­ery or by Ke­cipir Green Cash, which is es­sen­tially a card you can top up with money to make pur­chases on the site.

Ke­cipir is cur­rently only in Ba­hasa In­done­sia, but an English ver­sion will be avail­able early this year. That said, even with a lim­ited knowl­edge of Ba­hasa In­done­sia, one can still eas­ily un­der­stand the process of or­der­ing and col­lect­ing the goods (much like us­ing apps like Go- Jek).

The ques­tions re­main. Why bother with all of this? Is it not eas­ier to just buy the or­ganic prod­ucts from the ap­pro­pri­ate shelf in the many su­per­mar­kets?

The main rea­son for con­cerned food­ies is about the prod­ucts’ gen­uine or­ganic ori­gins.

Or­ganic la­belling is not al­ways clear, not in In­done­sia and not abroad. Mis­la­belling does oc­cur. But a vis­ual in­spec­tion of the or­ganic prod­uct will show spots, holes, dents and non- uni­form shapes and colours.

Wash­ing is there­fore rec­om­mended, not to get rid of the in­sec­ti­cides but to oust the oc­ca­sional snail or worm. And once sautéed or part of a salad, it is the taste that is im­por­tant, not the uni­for­mity of shape and colour.

Give it a try. Buy­ing or­gan­ics from Ke­cipir will not only be a healthy per­sonal choice but will also sup­port en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity by re­duc­ing air and wa­ter pol­lu­tion, al­beit on a lim­ited scale. But then, sup­port of en­vi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­ity has to start sooner or later. And in this case, sooner is bet­ter.

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