Corn Farming, the Future of Agriculture in West Papua

West Papua
Source : JPNN

The development of the agriculture sector has been a main concern of the Indonesian government for years. West Papua is certainly not excluded from the plan. In fact, the region is hailed to be one of the agriculture centers in the east part of Indonesia. The central government seems to focus on corn farming in this region.

The Agriculture Potential of West Papua

West Papua
Source : Republika

This region is not widely known in terms of farming despite having promising potential. The most important potential that the region has is its vast land. There is a large portion of land that has not been developed. Even the government has estimated that the region only utilizes 33% of its potential land for agriculture.

When the remaining portion of the farming land is developed, the productivity of its agriculture industry will skyrocket. Such progress will help the region to be self-sufficient regarding food supply. Currently, it still relies on other regions to provide the necessary food products to ensure the people’s well-being.

Central government has conducted some studies to assess the land. There is a decrease in the quality of its soil. Nonetheless, the land can still grow many agricultural commodities such as coffee and cacao. In the next few years, though, the government plans to accelerate the corn farming industry.

Corn Farming in the Region

Based on the government’s data, by the third quarter of 2021, 11,000 hectares of land in West Papua will be used for corn farming. That number is still significantly lower than what is expected. Since corn can be a staple ingredient, local and central administrations are committed to increasing the land size used for corn farming.

The suitability of corn farming to the condition of this region is high. However, there are two things that the government needs to take into account. First is the fact that poorly planned corn farming can lead to the degradation of soil quality. Corn requires a high volume of nitrogen to grow, which can quickly deplete this soil nutrient.

Second, growing corn requires a lot of preparation—only skilled farmers can manage to grow the crop and gain maximum results. The soil temperature and water level need to be maintained well to grow. The traditional farming method may be difficult to implement, given the current climate and soil condition.

Government Efforts to Improve Agriculture

West Papua
Source : Republika

There is an understanding that it is impossible to develop West Papua as a center of agriculture, particularly corn production if the region remains in its current state. Thus, the central and local government bodies make efforts to improve the agriculture sector. The government efforts encompass:

1. Providing training to farmers

Many farmers in the area still adhere to the traditional way of farming. This situation may hinder them from adapting well to the volatile climate. In the end, productivity can be jeopardized due to this inability to adapt.

In 2021, the Indonesian government had trained 800 farmers. It is expected that the number will hit the 2,000 mark this year. The government mainly aims to attract younger farmers to be the future of agriculture in this region. Such a program will ensure the sustainability of the farming industry and food security.

2. Capital support from the government

Financial issues are also a major cause of the slow development of agriculture in the region. Due to its geographic location, it is expensive and tedious to obtain farming supplies and equipment. Thus, only big farms can survive over the years.

The government is also aware of this situation. It pledges to enable farmers to obtain capital easier. This process might be done through various modes, such as loans. With this fund, farmers should be able to improve various aspects of crop production, such as seedlings’ quality and tools.

3. Provision of new agriculture technology

Again, due to the location of West Papua, there are many innovations (not only in the agriculture sector) that come in late. Because of this, it becomes difficult to keep up with other regions in terms of farming productivity.

There is a plan in motion to provide new agriculture technology in the region as quickly as possible. To do that, the government needs to work with manufacturers and distributors of farming equipment. 

4. Improvement of agricultural infrastructure

Another pivotal component in any agriculture industry is the infrastructure. Small farmers require support from the government in this regard as it is expensive to build resources themselves. Two major concerns at the moment are the irrigation system and roads.

In the past few years, the government has invested a large fund in order to improve the infrastructure in this region. This fund includes the funding for agricultural infrastructure. It seems that infrastructure development will continue in the next few years, too, as there are many issues that must be tackled.

The idea of developing West Papua as a center of agriculture in the eastern part of Indonesia has been cooked up in the past years. For now, the government sees the potential of corn farming for the region. The current efforts can be a great foundation for the future of farming there.