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phinisi ship between historical culture and extinction of bitti wood

Kistang - There needs to be quick action by the stakeholders in Bulukumba to overcome the limited supply of bitti wood. Until the manufacture of phinisi boats continues, the supply of wood is available without threatening the forest, especially in Tana Toa where there is still a supply of bitti wood. In the 14th century, the crown prince of the Luwu kingdom used a phinisi to sail to China. He then married a Chinese princess named We Cudai. This is an excerpt from the manuscript of La Failureigo, a major epic in South Sulawesi (South Sulawesi).



This footage depicts a phinisi boat, typical of South Sulawesi, which is tough in navigating the ocean. It is also full of history.

Now, in the midst of difficult wood supply, the manufacture of phinisi boats has also created new problems, especially for the Kajang indigenous people in Tana Toa, Kajang District, Bulukumba Regency.




Why? Because one of the main and mandatory ingredients in making phinisi boats from bitti wood or gofasa wood is now starting to decrease in most areas in South Sulawesi.

Only in the forest belonging to the indigenous Kajang Tribe, in Tana Toa, this wood is still abundant. It is not impossible if the bitti wood has run out from other areas, the Kajang Tribe's customary forest has become the target of encroachment.

Bitti wood (Vitex cofasus) is the main material for making the hull frame because the shape tends to be bent or curved. Asar Said Mahbub, a lecturer in Forestry at Hassanudin University in Makassar, bitti wood is widely spread in several areas in South Sulawesi, but is starting to decrease. This type of wood is relatively well preserved and of good quality in Tana Toa, Kajang. This wood is favored by craftsmen, because it is not liked by sea worms and naturally curved. "Because to make the hull of the ship, the wood should not be straight and connected. Natural bent wood should be used. It's only in bitti," he said.

Bitti wood is getting bent the more expensive it is, per cubic it is valued at IDR 2.5 million. According to boat craftsmen, the number one quality bitti is in Kajang. "Why is the quality so good, because birds are spread through feces in the Kajang customary forest.

" Bitti, not only in South Sulawesi, but also in other places, such as Papua, Maluku, and Southeast Sulawesi. The center for making phinisi boats in South Sulawesi is in Tana Beru Village, Bonto Bahari District, Bulukumba Regency. Along the coast in the village, you can see that the ships are still in the form of a frame, lined up neatly facing the sea. Dozens of bitti wood with a length of two meters piled up and mixed with other used wood.

Here many phinisi are made to order. Phinisi orders are not only from within the country, but also from abroad. Mustari, a wood processor who works at PT Phinisi Semesta Bulukumba, said that currently they are working on orders from abroad at a price of Rp. 1.7 billion. Phinisi is done by seven people with a capacity of 300 tons and weighs 2.5 tons. They get paid Rp. 150 million. According to him, the ingredients for phinisi are ironwood or ironwood and bitti wood. Ironwood is obtained from Southeast Sulawesi, and bitti wood from Bone and Sinjai Regencies.

“But bitti wood is starting to dwindle in Bone and Sinjai. We get the most from Kajang.” For one 30-40 year old bitti log, the average length is two meters, the price is Rp. 50 thousand. The same thing was expressed by Jawali, another ship worker. According to him, the ship they built was ordered by a Saudi Arabian. It is a type of cruise ship but has not been completed and has been running for a year. "The customer hasn't given extra money yet." The ship was planned to be brought to Bali.

Usually, one they finish working in seven to 10 months. Jawali said they are happy if the ship orders from abroad or fish entrepreneurs are not the government.

Because, if the order is from a government office, the money is cut a lot. “Currently, it includes many customers. In one year there are about 20 ships.” Agus Mulyana, a researcher from the Center for International Forestry Research (Cifor), is saddened by the condition of bitti in Bulukumba Regency, especially in Kajang. If it is calculated, the wood, aged up to 30-40 years, is purchased at a price of Rp. 50 thousand per stick and made into a ship for Rp. 1.7 billion. If the seven ship workers are paid Rp. 150 million, on average they get Rp. 2 million per month for 10 months.

“Economically, the Phinisi ship workers lose. The people of Kajang whose forest was taken for bitti wood also suffered losses. The only ones who profit are businessmen or contractors.” This means, said Agus, that the shipbuilding industry only creates jobs, but does not favor the poor and the environment. Because the forests in the Bulukumba area that have bitti wood will eventually disappear.

Philip Manalu, a researcher from Cifor said the same thing. According to him, stakeholders in Bulukumba must immediately find the right formula to overcome this problem. Until the historic boat building continues and the bitti tree is preserved. He suggested that one of the methods is using silviculture or plant breeding by adjusting the spacing, applying plant cultivation techniques so that it is better in terms of productivity. It can also be organic and non-organic fertilization, branch pruning and thinning techniques, and harvesting. "Or it can also be genetically engineered so that the age of the bitti tree can be shorter but the quality remains the same for harvesting." Agus Mulyana and Philip Manalu hope that the construction of the phinisi boat can continue because it is very historic. However, on the other hand, maintaining the sustainability of the forest in order to avoid degradation.