Improving Lives in West Papua through the Green Project of Seaweed

West Papua
Sumber : Interesting Engineering

West Papua is a land of extraordinary natural wealth and home to astounding land and marine biodiversity. This Indonesia’s easternmost region reaps remarkable economic potentials from mining, forest products, agriculture, and tourism

Pearls from Raja Ampat, seaweed from Teluk Wondama, nutmeg from Fakfak, or ecotourism area in Cendrawasih Bay National Park are a few examples. 

West Papua
Sumber : Green Islands

The Conservation Province

The abundant natural wealth is inversely proportional to the local community welfare. Many native people have no clear knowledge of their rights to the land and natural resources. The other obstacles are the lack of infrastructure, human resources, rapid global changes, and technology.

The government has planned to improve the lives in West Papua by initiating and establishing this region as a “conservation province.” The visions are protecting native tropical forests, promoting the growth of sustainable livelihood, and recognizing the rights of the indigenous people. 

The Green Project in West Papua  

The green investment is the government’s current program to invite private sectors and other stakeholders to empower the local farmers in many parts of Indonesia, including West Papua

It is part of green economy development with a key objective to reduce this region’s long desperate economic dependency on oil palm plantations and forestry. 

The private grants and investments, along with the state funds, will encourage more cultivation efforts for cash crops like nutmeg, cacao, sago, or coffee. Not to mention the promotion of aquaculture (algae and seaweed, for example) and ecotourism.

Improving Lives through Seaweed 

Seaweed and other aquaculture developments have become the government’s commitment to green economic growth based on leading commodities. It follows the mandate of the Manokwari Declaration of the International Convergence on Biodiversity, Ecotourism, and Creative Economy Results.  

The Aquaculture Development in West Papua

In 2019, the EcoNusa Foundation and the WRI Indonesia (World Resource Institute) organized a focus group discussion on Food and Land Use (FOLU) in Manokwari, West Papua

The workshop discussed food security and proposed a road map for two other strategic sectors, namely aquaculture and ecotourism. By considering the contours of mountainous landscapes, aquaculture requires more planning. 

There were three regencies included in the aquaculture development:

  • Fakfak Regency for seaweed commodity
  • Maybrat Regency for freshwater ponds for tilapia and catfish commodities
  • Manokwari Regency for floating net cages  


Seaweed Commodity from Fakfak

The Ministry of Village, Development of Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration (Ministry of PDTT), together with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), has carried out the PPMD program (Self-sustain Village Development Program).

There were 13 districts in West Papua, including Fakfak Regency, as program targets to receive funding from IFAD (USD 8.4 million) in the forms of community empowerment and capacity-building programs. 

The community would get training on cultivating, harvesting, and processing cacao, vanilla, or seaweed.  The program has also empowered women and taught the community to save their income, and many more. 

The PPDM has succeeded in empowering Fakfak farmers to send 4 tons to Surabaya. Saharei Village is one of the seaweed centers in East Fakfak Regency. It has an area of 4 hectares for this aquaculture development.

Seaweed Commodity from Teluk Wondama

In 2020, West Papua Governor officially launched the first 20 tons shipment of seaweed commodity from Teluk Wondama. It followed the previous first shipment of premium quality Ransiki cacao bean to Europe in early January in the same year. 

The seaweed of the Sakol type (eucheuma cottonii) is the production of Papuan indigenous farmers (OAP) belong to the target program of Green Economic Growth in Teluk Wondama Regency. The seaweed cultivation centers are as follows.

  • Yende Village, Menadan Village, and Niap Village (Roon District)
  • Yembekiri Village, Nusurowi Village, and Isenebuai Vilalge (Rumberpoon District)
  • Yomber Village (Yoswar District)

Looking at the vast area of Teluk Wondama waters, the seaweed development supposedly yields at least 200 tons of production. However, seaweed farmers are still small in number. Therefore, the government hopes that other coastal communities in other districts will also pursue this aquaculture cultivation. 

Security and accessibility are other obstacles. Lack of transportation facilities and infrastructures has led to the cut-off between upstream-downstream value chains. It further has an impact on the price. 

Therefore, it requires a more transparent, responsible, and efficient chain of commerce. Farmers and industries need to establish a direct partnership to break the too-long distribution chain. 

In the future, the government has a plan to expand the seaweed aquaculture development to Missol, Raja Ampat. Once again, seaweed is one of the leading non-deforestation commodities from West Papua included in the green economy and investment scheme.