The southernmost region of Indonesia may have extraordinary natural wealth. The 90% forest cover, the huge biodiversity for both water and land ecosystem, and the potential commodity in west Papua do not show proportional welfare of the locals or food security. The current development registers the issues and finds solutions for them.
Papua Food Security In Number
There are chances that economic scarcity was one of the reasons for indecent food security. The local community in the west part of Papua does have the problem of economy. But, natural wealth in the area is also heavily mistreated and ineffective. Locals do not understand how to get the best out of it, and it heavily affects the food and economy index.
In this case, the province has a pretty low IKP or Indonesian Food Security index. It indicates the food insecurity that shows how bad the food situation is in the location. The 2018 index shows 50 out of 100. The worst of all, there are four locations with less than 40 index scores. They are on Bintuni Bay, Maybrat Regency, Wondama Regency, Arfak Mountain, and Tambrauw regency.
The Issues Of The Food Security
Some of the reasons go to the new development of local habits and modernization. West Papua community has been in constant fast growth, either for its population, names, commodities, or economic growth. However, it also changes how the local life later affects their food security.
1. Local Food Consumption Behaviour
The biggest change is food consumption. The new behavior indicates that locals no longer consider sago and sweet potatoes as staple foods. It makes locals mostly depend on rice as the main. Tubers or traditional food has become rare since the rice dependency is above 95%.
2. Rice Field Is Not Accustomed To The Local
While the rice dependency matches with other Indonesian provinces, the local area is not accustomed to rice field farming activities. The endemic characters have been shifting cultivation, which depends on the forest or natural resources. It shows the imbalance of demand and productivity.
3. Settlements Conversions Taking The Rice Filed
The growing population is also one of the culprits of the low food security. Settlement conversion slowly took up a huge portion of rice fields in west Papua. Mostly in the Manokwari and Sorong areas since the population grows faster. Based on Unipa data, 27 years from 1990 the agriculture cultivation area only slightly changed.
In 2017, the number of paddy fields increased from 1,150 ha (in 1990) to 1,567. That increase is pretty small compared to the area of plantation land cover. The area of plantation skyrocketed from 14,777 ha to 67,292 ha in 2017. It goes the same with dryland agriculture from 7,007 ha to 6,709 ha and mixed dryland from 94,104 ha to 113,533 ha.
The number also shows that plantation exploitation is one of the core issues of local food security. Since local and government only focus on the plantation, the food production since 2010 has almost 20 percent decline. The lack of proper irrigation also makes the field inefficient. That is why most of the local food supply comes from outside and depends on the economy.
The Possible Solutions
Since many food supplies of the local population come from the outside, economic stability and increase can help west Papua locals to secure their food. In this case, the economic growth, as well as better agriculture projects, will help the community to get better food security. The good thing is, the government has provided some solutions to lift the economy and local welfare.
1. Increase Income And Sea Commodity
The strategic sector of aquaculture might be one of the best discussions on increasing the local economy and food situation. The strategy development consists of recommending different focuses in separated clusters. Maybrat Regency will develop freshwater products for catfish and tilapia. Fak fak is for seaweed, and Manokwari will focus on maturing floating net cages.
2. Increasing The Agricultural Sector Activities
The agriculture sector also highlights production infrastructures production, such as farm roads and irrigation. It also includes price subsidies for fuel prices, extension support, and technologies development for harvest or post-harvest for an effective outcome. A better expenditure also includes production facilities, assistance, and incentives.
3. Designed The Eco-Tourism Location
In the ecotourism sector, locals can gain a proper economy through designated growth. In this case, the development is focusing on the West Papua Arfak Mountains District, Raja Ampat Regency, and Kaimana Regency. Ecotourism helps increase OAP income and sustainable development. The location also offers unexplored potentials for public eyes.
As one of the 3T (Terdepan, Terpencil, dan Terbelakang), the province has more than enough to explore. It does have a lot of potential and commodities to improve the food security for the locals. The natural wealth and Government can provide better solutions by empowering farmers, fishermen, and eco-tourism for a better economical situation.