The Role of Women in Tempe Industry in Kalangan Village, Klaten District
Rabu 5 Desember 2018

First published : 18 August 2018

Located at 20 km from the center of Klaten District, Kalangan Village is known as one of the centers of tempe as soybean-based home industry. The village is situated within the administrative area of Pedan Subdistrict, Klaten District, Central Java. As one of the tempe production centers in Klaten, name signs of tempe producers are seen on the roadsides along the the road to the village. The village also has a cooperative that provides soybean for tempe and tofu producers.


We visited Mrs. Atmo, one tempe producer, who has been in the business of tempe production for more than 40 years. She was almost at her seventies, she remained in full spirit in running her tempe business. Her son helped her running the business, assuming the responsibility of cooking the soybean prior to packaging, and two female workers helping her with packaging the soybean in large and small packages.


“I wrapped tempe using banana leaves, resulting in tempe with more delicious taste. Today’s competition, however, is getting stricter as more and more tempe producers are shifting into plastic packages for wrapping their tempe,” Mrs Atmo told us.


In a single day, Mrs. Atmo can process 40-60 kgs of soybean into approximately 700 tempe in large packs and 400 in small packs. The production volume is far lower than it was in the past, when she had been able to process 100-120 kgs of soybean per day. The increasing price of soybean is one of the factors that forced her to reduce her production volume.


The tempe she produced can be sold only after 4 days since cooked for IDR 400/large pack and IDR 200/small pack. With workers fee of IDR 20,000/day, Mrs Atmo is able to gain profit of between IDR 200,000 and 300,000 per day. The tempe industry she owns is operated in her house, with only a traditional stove and several simple tools. The production activity begins in the morning and ends at late afternoon. Soybean is boiled, drained, and peeled off the skin. The process requires great force to transport and stir tens of kg of soybean during boiling. That’s why the task is entrusted to Mrs.Atmo’s son-in-law. She and her two female workers are responsible for fermenting boiled soybean that has been left overnight with yeast and then wrapping them using banana leaves.


Most of tempe wrappers in Kalangan are women. Carefully, they wrap tempe in packs of two different sizes, sometimes also dispose of dirts mixed during cooking. Mrs.Atmo and her female workers are only few of the hundreds of women that hold important role in the future of small-scale tempe industry. Their role is not only to preserve the existence of tempe as a food, but also to control the quality of tempe we consume, which is the reason that today we can till enjoy this distinct, delicious food.