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The Peat Restoration Agency (BRG) employs three approaches to restore 2.49 million hectares of peatlands across seven priority provinces: rewetting, revegetation, and revitalization of livelihood. The third approach aims at improving the economic welfare of peat communities through the development of local livelihoods which could support sustainable peat management. South Sumatra, one of BRG’s priority provinces, has several local, environmentally sustainable livelihood options that utilize valuable commodities native to peatlands. The harvesting and weaving of purun (Lepironia articulata) is one of the options. For example, in the Pedamaran Subdistrict, purun has been used as a raw material for woven crafts (e.g. mats) for decades. Purun weaving serves as an engine of economic growth for the communities who live near peatland area. The dependency of the locals on purun as a source of income and part of local wisdom has led them to preserve the peat swamp ecosystem.
To better understand the potential of purun as a suitable business approach that could support restoration in South Sumatra, we utilized both qualitative and quantitative approaches. We also conducted in-depth interviews with the local business actors (i.e. harvesters, weavers, and traders) and policy-makers. In addition, we also assessed the market conditions and opportunities for woven purun products, especially as an example of green products. Challenges that we have identified include the lack of market knowledge and connections, unstable supply of raw materials, lack of financial capitalization, and low product quality. The potential market for green products, however, is highly promising as more than 80% of respondents are willing to pay a higher price for them. The gaps between the existing production system and the potential market could be narrowed down by developing policy adjustments for existing peat swamp areas, improving access to microfinance, providing suitable investment schemes, and implementing specific capacity building for the weavers. In addition, suitable marketing strategies are required to support the business sustainability of purun weaving.