The Role of Transmigrant Farmers in the Modernization of West Papua Agriculture Industry

West Papua
Sumber : Pixabay

The agricultural sector is synonymous with rural areas. In its development, the West Papua agriculture industry, especially in rural areas, reveals that people’s circumstances differ even though they live side by side. Some people in rural areas, notably transmigrant farmers, were already aware of managing production aspects through cultivation techniques using advanced technologies.

While the remainder, particularly the local community, were still in an outmoded situation, such as farming with the shifting cultivation system. As a result, the enormous resources’ potential has not been completely utilized. The locals gradually began to replace traditional methods with the more modern ones. This is inextricably linked to the role of the transmigration program.

Transmigration in West Papua Agriculture Industry 

West Papua
Sumber : Wikipedia

The province, located on the western tip of Papua Island, Indonesia, began a transmigration program in 1969 in Manokwari Regency. The program was called Pelopor Pembangunan Serba Guna and involved a total of 12 families (30 people).

According to Central Statistics Agency (BPS) research data from 2013, Manokwari had a total of 21,314 households with agricultural businesses, comprising transmigrant farmers and indigenous Papuan farmers. Many farming households indicate that transmigration is a cultural acculturation process that is beneficial for transferring agricultural technological innovations to local farmers.

At that time, the farming system of the local Papuan farmers was traditional and subsistence. Although the implementation required a long time and involved several complex steps, transmigration was considered to be able to accelerate agricultural development by helping local farmers improve attitudes, knowledge, and skills to enhance welfare.

Differences in Farming Methods

West Papua
Sumber : Pixabay

The following are some major differences in farming methods applied by transmigrants and indigenous Papuan farmers in West Papua:

  1. Indigenous farmers prefer shifting cultivation.
  2. Both use manual land management techniques, but transmigrant farmers use mechanization too.
  3. Local farmers base their decisions on customary law and local wisdom. Meanwhile, transmigrant decision-makers rely on experience, information, and technology.
  4. Transmigrant farmers have used pesticides, fertilizers, and high-yielding varieties (HYVs).
  5. Both rely on labor from within the family. However, transmigrants employ hired labor too.
  6. While local farmers’ harvests are simply packaged and unprocessed, transmigrant farmers’ products are processed and packaged in a modern way.
  7. Transmigrant farmers market and sell their raw or processed products. Likewise, local farmers process food for their own consumption.

Furthermore, unlike transmigrants, local farmers do not keep farm records. Farm record-keeping, on the other hand, will assist farmers in planning and implementing realistic forecasts.

West Papua Agriculture Industry Now

The transmigrant community from Java Island in Manokwari was succeeded in modifying the conventional farming techniques of local farmers. The transition is from shifting to permanent cultivation. This advancement is expected to increase productivity and effectiveness.

According to RI Agung Widiantoro, a DPR’s Commission IV member, as quoted on the DPR’s official website (19/02/2018), local people have understood that permanent cultivation is better. Agricultural commodities are expected to be able to meet the food needs of Manokwari’s local communities.

Local farmers have responded positively to this modification in farming methods. A program named “cetak sawah” in West Papua, developed in collaboration with the TNI and the Ministry of Agriculture, was designed to enhance production and food sovereignty. From 2016 to 2018, the land cleared by this operation was included in the national land standard area map.

The entire area of rice fields is currently about 10,000 hectares. Only 50% are actively producing, with yields ranging from 3 to 5 tons per hectare at each harvest. With 12 regencies and one city, and a population of 981,222 million, West Papua Agriculture Industry has a lot of potentials. Unfortunately, the number of farmers in the area is limited, and many novice farmers still need guidance.