Agribusiness Expansion and Food Commodity Production in West Papua

4 Ways for Forest in West Papua to Stay Preserved
Korowai woman processing pulverized sago palm trunk into the starchy food that is the staple for almost every meal in this part of Irian Jaya. The sago palm is first felled with a stone axe, and then the trunk is hacked open and pried apart with hardwood poles. It is then chopped with wooden adzes and the pulverized pith is processed in this sluice made from the upper part of the felled palm. When water is poured in at the top, the starch is washed from the pulp and trickles through a bakr-cloth strainer. With two days of work a single sago palm can provide enough starch to support a family for several weeks.This picture was taken as part of an expedition for GEO Magazine and National Geographic Magazine to document the way of life of the Korowai tribe. Most of the Korowai in these photos had never had prior contact with anyone outside of their language group, and have no material goods from the outside world. They live in tree houses built above the forest floor to protect themselves from outsiders. The Korowai believe that contact with outsiders will bring an end to their culture. Cannibalism has been part of their traditional system of criminal justice to avenge the death of their clansmen, but the practice is dying out and is outlawed by the Indonesian government. The Korowai believe that most natural deaths are caused by sorcery, and must be avenged by the death (and consumption) of the person responsible.

The Papua region in Indonesia has experienced rapid development in the economic sector in the last decade. It is due to the expansion of the agricultural sector and infrastructure development. Agribusiness development has reorganized natural resource governance and employment relations. It also provides a relationship of supply of food commodities in West Papua. Here is the explanation.

Progress Plan in Indonesia

The government made a special program to accelerate development in Indonesia called MP3EI (Masterplan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesian Economic Development). The Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs published the effort in May 2011 to become a developed country by 2025. The program aims to become the 9th largest economy in the world.

This plan has the advantage of accelerating economic growth in Indonesia. Economic activities that are targeted for special attention in the eight main programs are agriculture, marine, tourism, mining, energy, industry, telecommunications, and strategic area development. Among the listed economic activities, there are some that are important to Papua.

It consists of palm oil, cocoa, rubber, and food agriculture, which are the most important things in Indonesia. The plan divides the archipelago with different economic foci in order to achieve an annual GDP growth rate of 12.7% within economic corridors. Thus, the government will contribute to providing basic infrastructure in economic development.

However, the program is considered less effective for some indigenous people in West Papua. It is a bad criticism of the environment. Fortunately, with the current president is targeting Papua again under a more effective national food estate program. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry also plays a role in developing the potential of agribusiness in Papua.

The government is eager to develop economic activities in Papua with agro-business expansion. It produces significantly good food commodities. Future expectations, Papua can provide food availability for local, national and international in the future. For these reasons, the government is developing food commodities in Papua.

The Advance of Agribusiness Expansion

1. Plantation

Agribusiness development in Papua is one of the government’s large-scale developments. One of the developments in the agribusiness model is oil palm plantations. After the vast expansion of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, Papua became the center for developing Oil Palm plantations.

2. Food Farm

Food estate became one of the terms that existed from 2009 to 2016. This national economic development aims to increase rice production in Indonesia. This massive project is converting peatlands into rice fields on a large scale in West Papua. The initial objective of this project was to accommodate the food crisis that occurred from 2007 to 2008. It provides economic development.

In other words, this project is one of the best investment facilities in the development of the agricultural industry on a large scale. There are many companies that cultivate agricultural commodities in the Papua region. It consists of corn, rice, sugar cane, palm oil, peanuts, soybeans, and many more. As a result, this is one of the efforts to develop the agricultural sector in Papua.

3. Agricultural Development in Papua

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Sago is one of the multi-functional plants and grow fast in Papua. Thus, sago is a staple food for Papuan people who live in peat swamp areas. The sago palm can produce starch from its pith as a source of high carbohydrates. The total productivity of sago is the highest compared to corn, rice, and cassava. It is an opportunity to change resilience in West Papua.

In the midst of the threat of a food crisis, the government and the private sector pay special attention to the development of sago. It is useful in providing food sources because of the great prospects in continuing sustainable agriculture. As a result, the government supports the expansion of forests with a size of 1.25 million ha. It has a vital role in the development of sago farming in Papua.

The industrial potential in the sago crop is seen as the most influential in Papua. The government fully supports the development of the use of agricultural products. In addition, the government is also implementing a strategy to accelerate the sago industry and potential commodity products. With this in mind, it contributes to national food sovereignty.

The Potential Food Commodities in Papua

As is well known, Papua is famous for its abundant natural resources. There are many potential food commodities in Papua, such as sago, sweet potato, taro, and gembili. According to indigenous peoples, the best plants are widespread in the Papua region with a cultivation system. This food is the best commodity in West Papua in providing food security.

All in all, there is a lot of potential for agricultural products in Papua because of its supportive natural conditions. With all its efforts, the government supports the expansion of the development of agribusiness and food commodities in Papua as a whole. It aims to support national food security in both Papua and Indonesia.