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The Soybean Saga

A 150 percent surge in the price of soybeans, the main ingredient of tempeh, over the past six months has been a huge blow to tempeh chip makers like Sentot.With another 20 percent rise in the price of cooking oil in the last week, the 37-year-old Sentot is struggling to keep his business running.

Producing 60 kilograms of chips daily, before the price surge, Sentot usually pocketed a net profit of Rp 100,000 (US$11) per day. Now, he earns around Rp 60,000 a day, a 40 percent drop in daily profits.

The native of Blimbing, Malang, however, has no other choice but to keep producing the chips because the business is the main source of income for him and his wife, Denny Istanti, 35.

He raised the price of his tempeh chips from Rp 21,000 a kilo to Rp 24,000 two weeks ago, but is still losing profits. He does not dare raise prices again for fear of losing all his customers.

Sentot can only hope soybean prices will come down so he will not have to raise the price of his chips or, even worse, lay off his seven workers.

Let’s hope that the government listens,” he said with a sigh.

Wahyoe Boediwardhana