Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Cabbage Story - Cemoro Lawang, East Java, Indonesia

The white cement is sprinkled on the cabbages to preserve them

At about 10.00 am we completed our Bromo tour, ate the simple, not tasty breakfast at Lava Cafe, checked out and we were all set to our next destination Banyuwangi. We told the driver that we wanted to make several stops along the mountain village of Cemoro Lawang to have a closer view of the East Java mountain farming.
The cabbage field on the mountain, the diagonal line is the farmer's path
Known to be the most populated island of the Indonesian archipelago, Java hardly has any space to spare, every strip of the land will be cultivated and the fertile volcanic soil contributes significantly to the productivity of its labor. I think Javanese are very hard working people.  I looked at the mountainous landscape at a far distance and caught sight of some farmers working.  I was puzzled, how on earth they could walk on the terraced mountains, some slanting almost at an angle of 70 degrees! 
Cabbages filled the slopes

Our driver, Hasbullah, was very accommodating and he made several stops to give us the opportunity to take photographs and talk to the locals. Though they were busy at work, they still managed to greet and exchange few words with us. Indonesians are very warm people and the fact that we speak almost the same language but with a different accent has in many ways facilitated communication with the locals.  Only when they speak pure colloquial Javanese, we are lost.  
Harvesting the cabbages

Cabbages and spring onions are the two most popular crops in Cemoro Lawang and every fields, slopes and mountains are planted with these two vegetables.  We stopped to observe the farmers working on the cabbage field. The cabbages are cut, loaded into the basket and carried to the lorry. Everything is done manually from beginning to end. The vegetables are not only consumed locally but they are also exported. We were told some fast food restaurants regularly buy their cabbages. 

70 kilos of cabbages on his back!
Labor cost is very cheap in Indonesia and with huge numbers of unemployed in this country, everybody needs a job. We were introduced to Suparman, 60 years old man who works in the cabbage field. He carried 70 kilos of cabbages in the rattan basket and walked bare feet up and down the mountain.  His friends joked about him for having two wives and four children, he smiled shyly.  These workers have amazing strength and high endurance for such laborious job!  

A bag of white cement in front of the cabbages!
We got closer to the lorry where the cabbages were loaded and we saw the man sprinkling something on the cabbages. It was shocking when we were told that white cement was sprinkled on the cabbage to preserve them.  Cement! We looked at each other in astonishment. So make sure you tear few layers of the cabbage head and wash them thoroughly before consuming. 

Spring onions planted in between the cabbages - no space is wasted!
Field of cabbages and spring onions
Men at work on the cabbage field
Small plot of strawberries
Suparman and his load of cabbages
Weighing the cabbages
Suparman, the Superman!
Carrying the cabbages to the lorry
Workers help to unload the cabbages
Vegetables stall in the village
Fresh chilies which look like tomatoes
Chilies, cabbages, tomatoes and potatoes


  1. did you know how much pesticides they gave to those vegetables? curious if they were using it or not

  2. Honestly, I've no idea how much pesticides they're using but the experience of seeing white cement being sprinkled on the vegetables shocked me!