As. J. Food Ag-Ind. 2009, Special Issue, S37-S43
Asian Journal of
Food and Agro-Industry
Available online at www.ajofai.info
Development of salak bali as an organic fruit
I. M. Sukewijaya*, I. N. Rai and M.S. Mahendra
Agroecotechnology Study Program, Faculty of Agriculture, Udayana University,
Jl. PB. Sudirman, Denpasar 80232 Bali, Indonesia.
*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed, email: email@example.com
This paper was originally presented at the International Conference “Go Organic”, Bangkok, Thailand,
Salak (Salacca zalacca) is a species of palm tree (family Arecaceae) native to Indonesia
and Malaysia. The fruit grow in clusters at the base of the palm, and are also known as
snake fruit due to the reddish-brown scaly skin. Salak Bali (Salacca edulis) has long been
favoured because this variety is moist and crunchy. It has a relatively high economic
value, eaten as fresh fruit as well as utilized as an industrial raw material for the food
industry. There are around 18 varieties of Salak being developed at the commercial level
Bali is an important tourist destination in Indonesia and tourists are often introduced to
Salak for the first time. This has led to an increasing demand for Salak as an organic fruit.
In Bali, Salak has been produced traditionally since the 1500’s. Cultivation is in
accordance with standard practices, little changed over time. According to a
phenophysiology study in 2007 validating farmer practices in cultivating Salak Bali, it
was found that farmers are still maintain traditional cultivation practices and thus the fruit
can qualify as an organic product. Traditional irrigation practices are still generally used,
relying on rain availability, although some growers are now using more modern irrigation
technology. Fertilization is conducted by using manure and put mulch from refuse onto
the soil, while plant protection is conducted by mechanical techniques. However, the
Indonesian National Standards (SNI) have still to grant Salak Bali full organic
certification. Through Indonesia’s Go Organic Program 2010, the Agriculture
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Department proposed to provide financial support and technical assistance for Salak
farmers in Bali to produce Salak Bali in accordance with recommended SNI practices for
Organic Food. Once this recognition is forthcoming, it is expected that Salak Bali will
enjoy a wider market and can be expected to be become one of Indonesia’s excellent
product of certified organic fruit.
This paper details the steps involved in cultivating Salak Bali to assist the fruit in
attaining full organic status.
Keywords: Salacca edulis, certification, Indonesia
Indonesian tropical fruit have an unfulfilled opportunity to contribute to the global food
market. Salak Bali (Salacca edulis, or sometimes classified by taxonomists as Salacca
zalacca var. amboinensis) , offers good potential for export, particularly if it is
classified as organic. Currently, there is a noticeable change of consumer pattern to
organic product is through higher organic horticultural product demand, including
demand for fruit. Due to its popularity locally, investors are now establishing large
estates to grow Salak Bali. Much research was undertaken around the turn of the century
aimed at improving Salak Bali using modern technology [2, 3, 4, 5]. However, such
wealthy investors see traditional growing methods as a hindrance to improving
production. However, because these traditional practices lend themselves towards organic
agriculture, they may be preserved if certification is forthcoming and markets are
Figure 1. Salak Bali.
As. J. Food Ag-Ind. 2009, Special Issue, S37-S43 S39
Orchard management is traditionally done by simple methods. Fertilization, plant
protection and irrigation have not been intensified as yet. For example, the method to
enhance soil fertility is conducted by using manure and putting refuse into the soil,
without the application of any inorganic fertilizer. Harwood , revealed that there are
three concepts to develop sustainable agriculture, i.e. (i) agricultural production has to be
increased but efficient in exploiting of resources, (ii) biological process has to be
controlled by agricultural system itself, (iii) nutrient cycles in agricultural system has to
be improved and more closed.
Figure 2. An Example of Commercial Application of Salak in the Food Industry.
Currently the market potential for organic agricultural products in Indonesia is
considerably very small, limited only to the middle to high class communities and to
tourists. There are some other constraints to develop organic products, e.g. (a) there is no
fair price incentive to organic agricultural product producer, (b) need a high investment
for initial development due to sanitary selection of land, and (c) there is no market
assurance, therefore the farmer is uninterested to develop organic product.
Cultivation Techniques on Bali
Salak Bali naturally flowers throughout the year, at least 4 times regularly. The peak
harvest is in December to February, the first intermediate season is in March to May,
“gadu” harvest season is in June to August and the second intermediate harvest season is
in September to November. Peak season and “gadu” are regarded as on-season periods,
whereas first intermediate and second intermediate harvest season are off-season periods.
The Salak palm is intolerant to full sunshine. About 50 – 70% of full sunshine is required,
therefore the plant needs to be sheltered by shady plant. Salak Bali orchards generally use
coconut, durian, Leucaena glauca and Eythrina sp. for shading plants. It is thus suitable
in some circumstances for intercropping with other agricultural produce. Salak Bali is
cultivated under an average rainfall of about 200 – 400 mm/month.
According to a phenophysiology study on Salak Bali, it has been found that the flowering
ability of the palm is similar during the entire season, but during the second intermediate
As. J. Food Ag-Ind. 2009, Special Issue, S37-S43 S40
season flower drop occurred at a much higher rate, about 88.96% . The study also
found the high rate of flower drop during the off-season is caused by inadequate
irrigation input. Low irrigation input influenced the nutrient absorption ability of N, P,
and K, shown by the low evidence of N, P, and K on plant tissue during the off-season
The following outlines the standard procedures used for the cultivation of Salak Bali .
Aimed to produce best quality and highly homogeneous fruit and to ensure the seedling is
free of pathogens. Seedlings sourced from seed that were obtained from guaranteed
mother plant. Seedlings that were used were aged 6 – 8 moths and bore 4 – 5 leaves.
Trimming of shoot and midrib
It is done by removing the shoot that grew on the plant and undesired midrib, such as
unproductive, wilt, dead and damaged by pathogen. It is aimed to maintain amount of
plant, to stimulate the blooming, orchard sanitation, to manage air circulation and to
optimized sunshine intensity. Old and unutilized leaf, damaged leaf and exceeded leaf
has to be trimmed. Too many numbers of shoots have to be removed, especially close to
fruit set. By trimming, salak orchard will not be too leafy and air circulation was
preserved. Trimming was also helping good distribution of nutrition, not only for
vegetative portion, but also for generative portion. Trimming is done twice a month, but
close to blossoming or fruiting, it could be done once a month. Leave only one or two
plants in one cluster. If in one cluster consist of several plants, productivity was upset.
Leaf trimming was done until base of midrib, not only cut partially due to leaf was
undesirable and unusable by plant. After harvest, trimming was also important to
preserve plant growth optimally.
Removed and cleaned the weed or undesired plant that grew in the orchard. First weed
control was done when plant aged 2 months after transplanting and 3 times a month for a
further 2 months. After that, weeding was done every 6 months, in early and by the end
of rainy season. During weeding, soil was also loosened. It was aimed to cover and to
make dense the stem and root of Salak plant in the soil.
It was done by putting organic fertilizer into the soil, such as cow dung. The objective
was to maintain nutrient condition in the soil, provide balanced nutrients for plant growth
and development, improve fruit quality and enhance plant productivity. Fertilizing of
Salak Bali is by using manure and putting refuse into the soil.
Aimed to provide water in root area according to accurate time, technique and amount of
water, therefore nutrient absorption could be run well. Salak Bali utilized rainwater
As. J. Food Ag-Ind. 2009, Special Issue, S37-S43 S41
Aimed to decrease intensity and expansion of pests and disease under control limit. Pest
and disease control to avoid economical loss specifically yield loss and quality reduction.
Significant insects and diseases concerned to Salak Bali were caterpillar (larvae) of
Lepidiota stigma that destroy the root and Lepidiota stigma itself attacks the shoot of the
plant, Silphidae and Pseudococcus sp. Whereas disease types are leaf spot disease
(Pestalotia sp.), flower spot disease (Fusarium sp. and Marasmius sp.), fruit rot disease
(Certocystis paradoxa, Fusarium sp. and Aspergillus sp.) and plant malformation. Pest
control was done by mechanical technique. Larvae attractant such as Colocasia esculenta
and cassava was utilized to control larvae, whereas imago attractant lamp was used to
It reduced the amount of on each bunch, intended to produce optimum quantity and
quality fruit in line with target. Normally, farmers ignore fruit thinning, leaving whole
fruit on bunches without fruit thinning. The consequence of this is that abundant small
fruit was formed in a bunch. Fruit thinning was done 2 – 3 month after full bloom. It will
get 12 – 14 fruit per kg by maintaining about 20 fruit per bunch.
It is intended to obtain fruit with a specified quality standard. Salak Bali was harvested
when hairs on the skin surface disappear and skin colour changed blackish brown,
maximum fruit size and fruit position on bunch was lose, seed colour was black or
blackish brown, with a good taste and fine aroma.
Figure 3. Freshly Harvested Salak Bali in Traditional Basket.
As. J. Food Ag-Ind. 2009, Special Issue, S37-143 S42
Postharvest and processing
Postharvest treatments including cleaning, sorting, grading, labeling and packing
according to size and specified quality standard. During peak season, fruit was processed
as “salak cracker”, “dodol”, “salak wine” and sweetened to overcome copious yield.
Agronomical activities mentioned above support excellent Salak Bali fruit as an organic
product. Current evidence of activities to support organic farming of Salak Bali are using
fertilizer without chemicals, irrigation generally depending on rain availability and
mechanical pest and disease controls. This consistency has caught the attention of
provincial and central government through the Agriculture Ministry who propose to give
financial support and technical assistance for Salak Bali farmers as a pilot project
development of Salak Bali as a certified organic fruit, through Go Organic 2010.
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