5 West Papua’s Main Economic Activities: Highlights & Challenges


West Papua is a paradise land for birds that has numerous hidden gems. Sited beautifully along the equator line, it has also become the home to plenty of marsupial animals and endemic fowls. The region does offer not only mesmerizing tourist attractions but also special industries that contribute to even the entire country’s economic development. Below is some information regarding the region’s important industries.

West Papua’s Main 5 Economic Sectors


West Papua has countless potential natural resources from the economic sectors of mining, tourism, agriculture, forestry, and fishery. Raja Ampat Regency, one of the most well-known areas there, is not only an exquisite tourist attraction but also a seaweed and pearl producer. In addition to that, South Sorong Regency also offers a unique tribal weaving industry called Timor fabric.

Moreover, there is a fragrant syrup made of nutmeg originally produced in Fak-Fak Regency. Also, don’t forget West Papua’s wonderful natural tourism sites, such as Cenderawasih Bay National Park in Teluk Wondama Regency and Rumberpon Island. Check out the province’s main industries involving its most famous natural resources below.

Mining Sector

West Papua is enriched with the world’s second-largest mining industry after South Africa. The mining areas include Erstberg and Grasberg mountains, Manokwari, Fak Fak, Baliem Valley, Paniai region, Wissel lakes, and the border area of Papua New Guinea. Besides, Mount Grasberg itself is the world’s biggest gold mining site. Not to mention that it is also the second-largest copper mining site in the world.

The mining industry in West Papua is taken over by the Freeport Company, and the mining site is divided into three areas—the Open Pit, Deep Ore Zone underground, and Big Gossan underground. The mountain has a gold deposit valued at about USD 40 billion, as well as almost a billion tons of ore estimated to exist for 30 years from now. All the company’s workers do the mining operation every day.

Agriculture Sector

Even though West Papua’s agricultural sector is somewhat underrated compared to that of Java and Sumatra, it has great commodities—such as coffee, cocoa, yam, and seaweed. There are 29 cacao plantations in some regencies, including Keerom, Sarmi, and Jayapura. West Papua’s cacao fruits are larger than the regular ones. They are also apparently favorite to most Singaporeans and Malaysians due to their unique taste.

Meanwhile, Wamena has Arabica coffee that is popular among Indonesian coffee lovers from around the world. This kind of coffee tastes differently as if it contains honey, caramel, as well as chocolate. The coffee is produced in Jayawijaya Regency and shipped to the entire world, including the United States.

Fishery Sector

Another crucial economic sector in the province is fishery. From the Arafura Sea to the Pacific Ocean, West Papua is rich with numerous kinds of sea creatures that can be commodities. Even though in 2015, there were only around 1,000 locals interested in working as fishermen, Indonesia’s Ministry of Fisheries admits that there was some progress on the performance in the fishery industry.

Most catches by the locals are generally tunas, skipjack tunas, mackerels, anchovies, and Layang fishes. Those fishing products are usually delivered to other parts of Indonesia, such as Makassar, Tual, and Kendari. The fishing harbors are sited in Mimika, Biak, and Merauke.

Forestry Sector

West Papua’s forestry sector can also have great economic value to the locals. Nevertheless, the Provincial Government has recently planned to develop non-timber forestry commodities for the region sustainability—including Masohi (Mesoyi wood) and Agarwood. The plantation has been grown in almost all areas in West Papua.

The locals are also enthusiastic to welcome the global market, especially because there are some investors already for the eco-friendly commodities.

Tourism Sector

As mentioned above, West Papua is popular for Raja Ampat Regency that offers a tourism paradise for many visitors, both domestic and foreign ones. There are actually more tourist attractions in the province, such as Doreri Bay, Bakaro Beach, Tapurarang Archaeological Site, Cenderawasih Bay National Park, and many more.

Those amazing spots are potential for industries in the tourism sector, including traditional souvenir markets, accommodations, and restaurants.

Highlights & Challenges


Despite the island’s abundant natural resources, Papuans’ welfare is far from what is considered decent. The Indonesian Statistic Bureau stated in an interview back in 2017, both Papua and West Papua are the poorest provinces among the country’s 34 provinces. The population living in poverty in West Papua has reached 228,380, which is ironic since the regional income per capita is rather high—especially from the mining industry.

Fortunately, all the main five economic activities in West Papua can improve the region’s economy. According to data from the Bank Indonesia and West Papuan Provincial Government, there is a significant regional economic growth in trading, infrastructure, and human source sectors.

Therefore, it is important that Indonesian governments—on all levels—cooperate in educating the community about advanced information technology. With knowledge, locals can improve their productivity and trade their products online. This will also improve their life quality in the near future.