Note on the
Value of the Rupiah
The value of the Indonesian rupiah at the time of this study can be elucidated by stating the rate of exchange against the U.S. dollar and by giving the prices of typical consumer items. At the time my fieldwork began in late 1985, U.S. $1.00 was the equivalent of about Rp 1,120; or, put another way, Rp 1,000 was equal to U.S. $0.89. The following year the economy fluctuated throughout the world, and on September 12, 1986, the rupiah was devalued to an exchange rate of Rp 1,644 to U.S. $1.00 or U.S. $0.60 to Rp 1,000. However, the prices of consumer goods were little affected.
In late 1985, the price of rice in the Putussibau market was Rp 600 per kilogram; packets of instant noodle soup (Indomie) were Rp 150 each; and sugar cost Rp 800 per kilogram. Coffee cost Rp 5,000 per kilogram; sweetened condensed milk cost Rp 700 per small can; and sardines cost Rp 300 per small can. Kerosene cost Rp 375 per kilogram. Live chickens cost Rp 2,500-3,000 per kilogram. Pork cost Rp 1,000-1,500 per kilogram, and dried fish cost Rp 2,000 per kilogram. Cigarettes had an average price of Rp 400-600 per pack.
During the time of my study, the price of processed rubber (a major source of income for the Taman) reached and surpassed Rp 1,000 per kilogram. At a shop in a small village in 1986, rice was purchased for Rp 800-900 per gantang ("gallon," or 4.04 liters, weighing 2.5 kilograms) at the conclusion of the harvest in April. In November of that year, the same shop‐ keeper paid Rp 1,100 per gantang of rice and sold it for Rp 1,200.