Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The taste of a chocolate bar


silverqueen-chocolate.jpgI just ate a bar of chocolate tonight. I liked it a lot. It was sweet and little bitter. Dewi bought it this morning for twelve thousand rupiahs or around 1 US dollar. I know that a lot of people like chocolate. It is a favorite past time snack for young and old. I don't eat chocolate everyday. Maybe you eat chocolate every week or every day.


The price of a bar of Silver Queen chunky bar is getting more and more expensive but people keep on buying it. Silver Queen is an old player in chocolate business in Indonesia. I used to read in a blog that Malaysian conglomerate bought it. So, it is not an Indonesian company anymore. It's OK for me. In today's open economy anyone can have a company that is running overseas. That's the way the capitalism works.


Well, talking about chocolate and its rising price, I wonder if the farmers who grow the cocoa beans, the raw material for making chocolate bar, live a prosperous life from their cocoa farming. The price of cocoa beans in the world market has now been the highest one since two years ago. The soaring price of chocolate is caused by the inability of Gold Coast, an African state, to deliver the chocolate beans to the world market. Power struggle in the country creates political and economic instability. It seems that the situation in that country is not improving soon.


But Gold Coast is not the only country on earth that produces cocoa beans. Latin American states and South East Asian countries also produce significant amount of cocoa beans every year. With the soaring price of cocoa at the moment, the living condition of the cocoa farmers should be better. In fact, their condition remains the same.


I visited a village in Pami region of Manokwari West Papua. Farmers there did not harvest their cocoa. I tried to find the reason. Why they did not harvest the cocoa when the price of the beans is a record high for the past two or three years. Finally, I found out three reasons. The first was that their plants have been attacked by disease; second the farmers did not have trucks to deliver their harvest to buyers in the nearest town; and the third was the price which the buyers gave to them was low.


There has to be a fair trade mechanism for cocoa beans in West Papua and other cocoa producer regions that ensure the cocoa farmers get a better price for the commodity they produce. We, as the customers, should tell the chocolate factory maker to apply a fair trade mechanism in every route of cocoa trading.


This is only my personal opinion. It is sad to see that the taste of a bar of chocolate which was delicious in my mouth was strongly bitter for cocoa farmers living in the mountainous region of Asia, Africa and South America.


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Expressing Love with Flowers

I love growing flowers at the back of my house. I like many kinds of flowers such as rose, orchid, and canna. People said that growing flowers is women's hobby not men. For me, I don't care. I just love flowers, the colors, the fragrant of the petals, and the shape of them. They are so beautiful. Sometimes, I draw them on paper and upload them on the interned.
setangkai-dahlia.jpg
I often watch in Western movies about how a man expresses his love to a woman with flowers, usually a bunch of roses. After receiving the flowers, the woman will smell it, smile and give a romantic kiss to her man if she also falls in love with him. It is not common to see such thing in this country.
Flowers are traded across countries. The business of flowers is now an international business. People do not only see flowers as media for expressing love but also for creating a beautiful and relaxing environment both at indoor and outdoor spaces.
Is it still relevant to express someone's love with flowers? I personally agree even though I never do that when I fall in love. When I fall in love, I will say it to the one whom I am falling in love with. It's that simple. I don't want to be a complicated person.
So, in today's internet age, how can we still express our love to our loved ones using flower. In Bahasa Indonesia language, the terminology for flower is bunga. The terminology for the interest a bank gives to someone's savings account is also bunga. So, bunga does not only mean flower but also interest. Modern women in this country might be willing to receive the bunga in the latter meaning rather than the real flower in the former term. by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Collapse of Japanese and Chinese Recycling Businesses

by Charles Roring



used-plastic-bottles-in-japan.jpgRecycling has been a hot issue in recent days. Global warming and reduction of CO2 emission are now the concern of everybody. This concern can also be seen in Japan and China, two great Asian countries. Japan as the most industrialized nation discharges huge amount of used plastic bottles every day. They can be recycled and formed into other products such as jackets, shoes and even beds.


Japanese municipality authorities have been exporting used plastic bottles to companies in China for years. This operation, besides reducing the burden many Japanese businesses have to bear for reprocessing or recycling the plastics wastes, brings in a lot of profit to Japanese municipalities.


During the current economic slowdown, the demand for plastic wastes from China is going down rapidly. In China, the plastic bottles are cut into smaller pieces, washed and processed into synthetic cotton which the raw material for clothes that use synthetic fibers.


The lower demand for the recyclable plastic bottles is caused by the lower demand of plastic or synthetic products in Europe, the United States and many other Asian countries.


Piles of plastic bottles are now becoming a serious problem for the municipality authorities in most of the Japanese cities. They cannot export these plastic wastes to China anymore.


In addition, the lower price of fuel oil has been another factor that stops Chinese businesses to import used plastic bottles from China. They see that synthetic cotton made of oil is softer than the one made from used plastic bottles.


Japanese recycling companies are not ready to absorb the continued growing of used plastic bottles that are discharged by Japanese house holds everyday. Their capacity is smaller than the number of wastes they have to recycle.


There is one company in Japan that is now trying to recycle the used plastic bottles into plastic bottles again hoping that they can create a closed cycle for the plastic bottles which are now used and produced in Japan. They successfully constructed and tested the plastic bottles recycling plant but later they found out the production cost is higher than directly producing the bottles from raw material which is oil.


Although it is more expensive, the recycling of used plastic bottles to produce new plastic bottles has saved 40% of the energy consumption. This is another positive point which makes the Japanese company to their operation. In the future, when the price of fuel oil has returned to normal again, they believe that their plant will be more economical and produce profits for the company.


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