Fruitful Partnership
Forbes Indonesia|May 2021
Agribusiness company Tani Unggul is improving farmers’ welfare by tapping premium produce market.
Marella Putri

Indonesia's vast agricultural resources are essential to drive the economy and maintain food security. Yet, the number of workers in the agricultural sector has been declining over the years. Only 4.58 million people were working in the sector in 2018 out of 267 million population. Even the young generation in rural areas prefer to work in the city, one of the reasons being unappealed by how farming hardly fulfills their welfare, according to the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies in 2019. Concerned by the lack of attention on the problem, agribusiness company PT Tani Unggul Trading Nusantara tries to help local farmers by teaching them better farming methods and post-harvest handling. Best known for its premium vegetables brand Sunrise Indonesia, the company is run by four Salim siblings: William, Steven, Stevani, and Bob.

It all started in 2012 when William, the eldest of four, had just graduated from Macquarie University, Sydney, and he came home to Indonesia wanting to start his own business. Coming from a family with a farming background, William tried it on his own by renting land in Pemalang, Central Java, to plant onions, with the guidance from his father and other farmers at the site. From that first-hand experience, William came to understand the problems faced by farmers: low harvest yield due to traditional methods and poor post-harvest handling, and fluctuating market price.

At the end of 2013, William moved to Jakarta and founded Tani Unggul, where he started as a commodity trader to see from their perspective. He sourced onions from traders and supplied them to hotels, restaurants, and then supermarkets - his first supermarket client was Lotte Mart, using Sunrise as his brand. With his earlier experience in dealing directly with farmers, William then switched to sourcing the vegetables directly from farmers, guided them into sustainable farming practices, and pay premium prices for their crops.

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