Interview with Faris, President of CV. FT Berkah [Bogor, Indonesia]
Plants Without Borders: Good morning Mr. Faris.
Faris: Good morning.
Plants Without Borders: Today we will have an interview with you for Plants Without Borders. Could you please start by introducing yourself and your business?
Faris: Okay, thank you for the opportunity. My name is Faris. I am a farmer lives in Bogor.
Plants Without Borders: Could you please mention the name of your company?
Faris: The name of the company is CV Faris Tanam Berkah. The commercial name is Faris Jaya Berkah.
Plants Without Borders: We would like to know how you start your business?
Faris: I used to work as a staff in one of the private banks in Indonesia. In 2015 after 10 years of my career I decided to resign. I started to do some business since then. In the beginning of 2018 I met with an old friend, he is a farmer and comes from a farmer family. We had a discussion about ornamental plants which at that time started to become a big trend. I decided to also become a grower. In the beginning of 2019, the export of ornamental plants started to grow rapidly as it is facilitated by the government.
Finally we decided to establish a company in order to tap the export market, which is CV Faris Tanam Berkah. Today we have some communities for those growers who do not have access to do export, they join with us so that they could send their plants abroad.
Plants Without Borders: Alright, so your company started to export in 2019.
Faris: Yes with our CV, we did export already prior to 2019 but using other companies' names.
Plants Without Borders: I see.
Faris: Because we see the big potential on the export market thus we decided to establish our own company.
Plants Without Borders: Since you started the business in 2018 and start to do export in 2019, could you please share with us what are the obstacles that you face in doing the business and in doing export?
Faris: The challenge in doing the business is to keep the price. The price for ornamental plants is not stable. When the demand is high, the price could increase by 200%. Same goes when the demand decreases, the price will decrease as well. Especially for the plants with prices in the middle up to top level. The price could also be varied for one kind of plant with the same size of leaf, depending on the condition of the leaf. This is the difficulty for us as sellers, our sales price could be lower than our buying price.
As for export it is also a similar problem, with additional for export markets is the delivery. Every country has different regulations, some forbid import of certain plants. So we have to be updated with the information from the quarantine center here in Bogor.
Plants Without Borders: So the information you get from the quarantine center in Bogor?
Faris: Yes, that is right.
Plants Without Borders: Could you please share with us the development of your export activity from 2019 up until now?
Faris: For export markets 2019 and 2020 is the peak of export activity. The plants were in good condition, the price was good. The pandemic might have affected the growth. People stayed at home thus more people wanted plants at home. The export volume decreased at the end of 2021 might be due to the weather. It is still snowing in Europe. We hope this February - March the export volume will increase again.
Plants Without Borders: Personally, what inspired you to do ornamental plants business?
Faris: Personally, I have always loved plants. I like to see leaf grows, seed grows into plant. Thus when my friend asked me to join him doing ornamental plants business, I liked the idea. I love plants and gardening.
Plants Without Borders: So it is from hobby to business.
Faris: Yes, that is right.
Plants Without Borders: How are the ornamental plant communities in Bogor, especially those that you know?
Faris: The biggest community is from the Agricultural ministry. They have sub-group special for exporters. The representative often visits us to give education. We also have WhatsApp and Telegram groups to share information. The local community that we have here is for those growers that do export with us. We meet once a week to share updates regarding the price, share knowledge on how to do the packing properly, and share information about the export destination countries.
Plants Without Borders: It seems like the government fully supports the ornamental plants exports.
Faris: Yes they do. In 2019 the Agriculture Minister even visited Bogor, some of the growers were invited to do open discussion with the Minister.
Plants Without Borders: I see. As for your business, where is the top destination country for export?
Faris: In Asia our destination countries are Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Korea. In Europe, usually Germany and the UK. Also the USA. For the biggest volume the top destination is the USA.
Plants Without Borders: So the USA is still the biggest market for ornamental plants export?
Faris: Yes, correct.
Plants Without Borders: In your opinion, how are the export markets to the USA?
Faris: In terms of price, export to the USA is higher than Europe. We sell at a better price to the USA than to Europe. I think there are more plant lovers in the USA than in Europe.
Plants Without Borders: How about the demand, which one is more stable?
Faris: Market in the USA is more stable. This is also due to the shipping cost which is cheaper to the USA rather than to Europe.
Plants Without Borders: In here Plants Without Borders mission is to connect suppliers in Indonesia to the USA market, so that you can sell there. What information or support that you hope we can provide in order to help you sell better in the USA market.
Faris: The weakness of exporting is that we cannot know the condition of our plants at the destination country. Our hope is that when we have cooperation with companies in the USA, they can be the bridge. Some of the cases we have, we send plants that get held at the custom for over two weeks, that is a problem for us. So when we have an affiliation with someone on the ground we hope they can assist us to find out the reason, whether it is the permit or other special treatment that we had not fulfilled. Because we only packed the plants, sent it, then it would be out of our hands. We have no information how the custom got handled in the USA.
Plants Without Borders: How do you handle that kind of case? How do you deal with the customer when the package is being held at customs?
Faris: From the beginning we have been informing the customer in the case of plants arriving in bad condition i.e rotten, missing roots then we will replace them. Customers pay for the shipping cost. Or when there is next shipment we include the replacement with it.
Plants Without Borders: So there is replacement and refund?
Faris: Replacement and refund only in the form of plants. We dont refund the money that has been paid. While in the case the custom is held then usually we share 50 : 50 for the loss. Because it is not totally our fault.
Plants Without Borders: Alright, the purpose of this interview is to get to know more about your business and for our cooperation. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Faris: Previously I mentioned that we need the assistance for delivery. Actually there is also another thing that we need. We would like to know if there is any set price for plants in the USA. We would like to get a price benchmark to know the price range of the plants. Currently when we sell to the customer in the USA, we might sell with different prices.
Plants Without Borders: Okay, if I can summarize, what you need from us is first the assistance on delivery. To handle plants when it’s arrive in the USA. And second is for the information about prices in the USA.
Faris: Yes, correct.
Plants Without Borders: Okay, thank you for your time. I think it is enough for the interview. We have got all the information that we need. We will put the subtitles and edit the video. Since we are still trying on the Indonesian market thus we will use the information to better understand and provide better cooperation with exporters in Indonesia. I will stop the recording now, we can continue the conversation after this.
Faris: Okay, thank you.
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