USU lecturer oversees optimization of Nias natural resources

DetailsWednesday, 27 September 2023
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"Prof. Lilis gave an example of Nias Regency which has abundant natural resources, one of which is coconut plants that grow in very large quantities. One of the downstream potentials of coconut plants that can be done together with Universitas Sumatera Utara is to make it a cosmetic product."

The abundance of natural resources is one of the potentials that can be developed to become a new source of income for the community. Products produced through several production processes must be downstream so that they can provide feedback and contribute as a source of income for the local government.

This was conveyed by Prof. Ir. Lilis Sukeksih, M.Sc, Ph.D, lecturer at the Faculty of Chemical Engineering, Universitas Sumatera Utara, in the Forum Group Discussion (FGD) Optimizing the Potential of Nias Natural Resources through MSME Empowerment, which was held at the Kaliki Hotel Hall, Gunungsitoli City, June 13, 2023.

In her presentation, she explained that downstream is a strategy to increase the added value of commodities owned. With downstream, in the future exported commodities are no longer in the form of raw materials, but in the form of semi-finished or finished goods. The purpose of downstream is to expand the benefits and impact of the results of the wealth of natural resources owned by the Republic of Indonesia to all its people.

Prof. Lilis gave an example of Nias Regency which has abundant natural resources, one of which is coconut plants that grow in very large quantities. One of the downstream potentials of coconut plants that can be done together with Universitas Sumatera Utara is to make it a cosmetic product. Cosmetics are treatment substances used to improve the appearance or scent of the human body, generally a mixture of various chemical compounds, some made from natural sources and most from synthetic materials.

With an area of 853.4 km2, Nias Regency has a population of 1 million people. The recorded coconut plantation area is 44,486 hectares which produces 34,900 tons of fruit. Products produced from coconut trees in the form of fresh coconut, black copra, white copra, coconut oil, VCO, coconut shells, coir, and others, are generally sent to Medan City. Meanwhile, the people of Nias have basic needs such as cooking oil, bath soap, shampoo, laundry soap, and dish soap which are sent from Medan. The distance and travel time have resulted in low selling prices for coconut products at the farm level, while the price of necessities derived from coconut derivatives purchased from other areas outside the Nias regency has become more expensive.

"Now the people of Nias buy everything they need from Sumatra Island. While their coconuts are only sold for 750 rupiahs, by boat for 8 hours, then from Sibolga by bus for 8 hours, finally the selling price in Medan is already 7 thousand rupiahs. A thousand percent increase and the people get nothing. Coconut derivative products, shampoo, soap, and cooking oil, all come from Medan and other cities in Sumatra. Everything has to be bought from Medan and the price there is very expensive. The people are powerless. Very ironic, while the coconut is abundant there. In the future, it is hoped that if there is a coconut oil factory, shampoo, soap, and other derivative products, it is hoped that it will no longer come from Medan. So that the money can rotate in Nias, there is employment, and the community's income increases. That is the goal of downstream this coconut product later. We hope that after this FGD, the process to get there can run smoothly," said Prof. Lilis who was met after the FGD.

According to her, the requirements for commercialization are not difficult. The most important is that the product must meet quality standards based on SNI, such as free of alkali content, pH, and others. In addition, the product must be produced in a factory with BPOM's CPKB (Good Manufacturing Practice of Cosmetics) standard and have a distribution permit from BPOM.

Prof. Lilis emphasized in her presentation that the real role of SMEs is to build the regional economy, reduce poverty, build microeconomic independence, meet family economic needs, create and provide jobs, and reduce unemployment.

"The advantages of the SME concept are the ability to focus on specific sectors, low-cost structure, operational flexibility, and speed of innovation. But there are also weaknesses, namely lack of professionalism in carrying out activities, limited technology, raw material problems, marketing difficulties, financial limitations, and limited human resources," said the lecturer who is also the co-founder / Founder of CV Artsari.

According to Prof. Lilis, the response and enthusiasm from the community towards the FGD was extraordinary. About 50 MSMEs, religious leaders, community leaders, and women leaders attended. "At the event, there was also an exhibition of MSMEs, a demonstration of making shampoo and soap products. Coconut raw materials are extremely abundant in Nias. 10 MSMEs will be selected to participate in training at USU for 5 days to make nata de coco water, shampoo soap, and VCO. The training starts from coconut to VCO, to soap, the packing process to marketing, and entering the marketplace. It is estimated that August or September for the training and funding through TJSL (environmental social responsibility) of PT Pelindo," explained Prof. Lilis.

She also stated that the USU team will continue to monitor the development of MSME players who participate in the training.

"In the FGD which lasted for three days, Alhamdulillah, all outputs were achieved. My material focuses on the potential of Nias, its current condition, and what is expected in the future. Next year, the factory replication will be made in Gunungsitoli City," he concluded optimistically. (RJ)

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