Chewing Areca Nut, locally known as Pinang, is a daily ritual for the people of Papua. This culture introduces Pinang as a typical economic commodity of the Land of Papua. It’s no surprise that Pinang sellers abound on Papua Island.
Dominggus Mandacan, the Governor of West Papua, is committed to improving the well-being of indigenous Papuan mothers through the micro-enterprise industry. Various attempts are being made continuously to encourage the improvement of the people’s welfare in the western part of Papua. The construction of Pondok Pinang as a place for native Papuan mothers to sell Pinang is one clear example. Massive sums of business capital are also routinely disbursed.
Pinang as a Vital Commodity of West Papua
According to a 2014 report by the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), there are 19 natural ecosystems in Indonesia. With 74 different vegetation types, it is found in various regions ranging from Sumatra to Papua. It means that Indonesia has a high biodiversity value.
The forest in Papua is a component of the highly diverse Indo-Malaya tropical rainforest formation. Many indigenous peoples still rely on nature for survival. Pinang is one of the natural products in Papua that has a significant impact on the daily lives of its people.
Various species of Areca Nut grow in the Papua and Salomon Islands, according to a study published in the Phytotaxa Journal by Prof. Charlie D. Heatubun, Professor of the Faculty of Health, State University of Papua. They are native to India and southern China and number around 50 species.
Pinang tree has a lifespan of 25 to 30 years and blooms at the beginning and end of the rainy season. The fruit is oval in shape and ranges in length from 3.5 to 7 cm. When young, the fruit walls are green, but when ripe, they turn red.
Later on, the Areca Nut evolved into a new economic commodity in mountainous areas. It has now become a basic need in Papua, capable of driving the economies of small communities. Many parents can send their children to college thanks to the sales of Pinang. Related parties, particularly the agriculture or plantation service, must assist Areca Nut farmers in training and capital.
Pondok Pinang Development Program
Interestingly, Pinang is regarded as a symbol of the Papuan community’s kinship and unity because they are accustomed to eating and chewing Pinang while communicating and socializing.
According to credible sources, Areca Nut contains alkaloids, tannins, and flavonoids. Boiled water of Areca Nut seeds can help you overcome diseases like nosebleeds, ulcers, eczema, intestinal worms, diarrhea, and dysentery. The “umbut” part can be eaten as a salad, and the leaf midrib can be used to wrap food. The seeds and inner skin of the young Areca Nut are believed to be tooth-strengthening.
Since 2017, the West Papua Provincial Social Service has run the Pondok Pinang Development program for Papuan mothers in Manokwari, Sorong City, and Sorong Regency. Papuan mothers had been selling on the ground with used sacks in the hot sun or heavy rain and wind for all of this time; they now had a proper and secure place to sell.
Following equitable development and justice principles, the goal is for at least one district to have 50 Pondok Pinang for Papuan mothers.
Billions of Rupiah Disbursed since 2017
The Pondok Pinang Development Program remains the primary focus of the West Papua Social Service. From 2017 to 2022, they distributed 3.3 billion Rupiah in Pinang business assistance funds to 661 Papuan mothers.
As an extension of this program, in February 2022, 227 Papuan mothers who had not previously received business capital assistance were given five million Rupiah each, with a total budget of 1,1 billion Rupiah. The business capital was transferred directly to a savings account at Bank Papua.
During 2017-2021, 434 Pondok Pinang Business Capital Assistance recipients were budgeted through the 2021 Revised Regional Budget of 2.1 billion Rupiah, each receiving 5 million Rupiah. To date, 661 Pondok Pinang have been built in Kaimana Regency, Manokwari Regency, Teluk Wondama Regency, Raja Ampat Regency, Sorong City, Sorong Regency, and Arfak Mountain Regency.
West Papua Social Service Assistance Programs
Furthermore, the West Papua Social Service runs the following assistance programs:
- Assistance programs for house building materials;
- Tool assistance for fishers along the coast, on remote islands, and at international borders;
- Farmer assistance, specifically empowering productive economic enterprises by providing agricultural equipment, seeds, and production inputs;
- Programs for dealing with natural and social disasters;
- And programs for handling rehabilitation for people with disabilities;
All of those programs are clear evidence of the government’s role in the welfare of indigenous Papuans under the mandate of Law No. 11/2009 on introductory social welfare provisions, also Law No. 21/2001 on special autonomy for the provinces of Papua and West Papua.
It is hoped that this assistance program will increase Papuan mothers’ income while also allowing them to meet their basic daily needs. Thus, there will no longer be any social inequality in West Papua.