InfoSAWIT, JAKARTA – Based on what the woman who likes swimming told, she did not know what palm oil was. But after the government announced to stop importing vitamin A from Unicef, Tien R Muchtadi or famously known as Mrs. Tien had the opportunity to know palm oil for the very first time.
For Indonesia within massive population needs vitamin A supply in large numbers, Tien who was studying her doctoral degree as what her advisor told, she was led to research carotene in palm oil as the new source of vitamin A which was thrown away.
From the time, the woman who serves as lecturer for more than 50 years did research by applying palm oil she got from around Tugu Kujang, Bogor.
But for the sample she got not from palm oil plantations, it was not a valid research. “There is a silver lining. At least, I know better,” Tien told to InfoSAWIT.
But after it, Tien was sent to Medan to directly see the process in refinery to get information about thrown away - carotene from bleaching earth through spent earth. After it was studied, vitamin a had been degraded from bleaching earth.
Though it was once postponed, her mission to get source of vitamin A was continued. Luckily in Medan, Tien never missed the shot by learning the process of palm oil at PT Perkebunan Nusantara VI and VII at the time. “When I was in Medan I came to PTPN VI and VII to know and study how to process palm oil,” she said.
From that time, she knew one technic to save carotene to get high vitamin A. It was called supercritical fluid extraction. In fact, Tien was the first one that applied supercritical fluid extraction in palm oil. “I was the first person that apply supercritical in palm oil,” Tien said.
Not only about beta carotene, Tien once wondered to research the mature fresh fruit bunch (FFB). At the time, the harvest period was based on how many FFB fell on the ground.
From the logics of thinking, it was not a general thing to do. She wanted to research it in scientific ways. From the time, Tien did research about the right time to harvest palm oil.
It started with knowing the process of flowering until everything becomes FFB. Every week she did evaluation.
Finally, she knew that the maximal time to perform fatty globula would be in the 16th week. If the age of FFB is more than 18 weeks, fatty globula would be broken down and becomes acid. “That was my research and applied by General Directorate of Plantation. It did not depend how many FFB fell on the ground to do harvest,” Tien said.
Not only as researcher, as senior in Institut Pertanian Bogor, she was the first one that blocked health issue in palm oil, for instance, when palm oil was said to have cholesterol in the era of 1980s.
Finally, to answer the issue, the woman of Bogor was assigned to research the reality of the issue. “For my supervisor was a general director, I needed to scientifically reveal the answer. I was sent to Cornell University,” the woman who has three patents on her own name, said (T2)