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Without the Wherewithal to Whittle

Gianyar's Wood Carvers Suffering a Severe Shortage of Raw Materials.

(9/12/2005) For the past year, carvers from Bali's woodworking centers in Gianyar have faced an ever increasing shortages of teak wood. Traditionally, teak wood used by Bali's wood carvers originates from Surabaya, Banyuwangi, Sulawesi and Kalimantan.

In the past several years the cost of a cubic meter of teak wood has increased significantly from Rp. 1 million (approximately US$95) to Rp. 1.75 million (approximately US$166). In addition to higher cost of raw materials, woodworkers are also facing increasing uncertainty of supply.

Despite problems of supply and cost of woods, Bali's wood working craftsmen have been reluctant to increase the price of their goods, concerned that higher priced handicraft would fail to sell in the a highly competitive marketplace. Meanwhile, efforts to replace teak with other woods, such as jackfruit wood, have not been enthusiastically accepted by handicraft consumers who still prefer teak products.

According to a report in the Indonesian language newspaper Kompas, in 2003 Gianyar recorded 14,368 woodworking units employing a total 37,150 workers.