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Story Publication logo December 14, 2022

Repeated Failure of Food Estate Programs (bahasa Indonesia)


Limbung Pangan1 Papua

The food estate project has become a nightmare for indigenous peoples and the last tropical forest...

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This story excerpt was translated from bahasa Indonesia. To read the original story in full, visit Kompas. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

The food belt program by establishing new rice fields has been repeatedly carried out, but has failed.

JAKARTA, KOMPAS—The establishing of rice fields as part of the food belt project in Merauke, Papua, has resulted in many failures. Findings in the field show that most of the rice fields built are abandoned. In addition to land unsuitability, failure is caused by the lack of infrastructure support and lack of farmer labor.

In Bokem Village, Merauke District, Merauke Regency, the former rice fields that were developed in 2018 are mostly abandoned. "The rice field in the location of the rice field development cannot be planted. I have tried to plant two seasons but always failed. Many other farmers have also tried to fail, even losing money on planting and tillage costs," said Simon Wolo (53), Chairman of the Bokem Farmers Group Association, who was met in his village on Monday (14/12/2022).

According to Simon, in addition to the soil being too acidic, irrigation channels in the area have not been connected. "The primary, secondary and tertiary channels are not connected. There are water channels but they are only like separate ponds, which must be pumped to irrigate the rice fields," he said.

Simon said that from the beginning he had warned that the location chosen for the rice fields was not suitable for rice plants. "The project was done without consulting us. Suddenly there was a lot of heavy equipment coming. I told them it was a big swamp. It was where people used to hunt and fish. Besides being acidic, it is also often flooded," he said.

A rice cutting machine is used in harvesting at Bokem Village, Rimba Jaya Village, Merauke District, Merauke Regency, Papua, Thursday (17/11/2022). Bokem Village is one example of an area that has successfully developed planting to harvesting rice with satisfactory results in Merauke. Image by Agus Susanto/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Image by Andri/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

A Dutch heritage water pump used to irrigate rice fields in Wonorejo Village, Kurik District, Merauke, Papua, Tuesday (8/11/2022). The region in eastern Indonesia was developed into a food barn for the South Pacific region during Dutch colonial rule (1939-1958) through the Kumbe-Kurik Rice project. Image by Agus Susanto/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Forest logging around Zanegi Village, Animha District, Merauke Regency, Papua, Wednesday (9/11/2022). The entry of a number of companies that obtained HTI concessions is part of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) program. Some of the forests in Zanegi have been transformed into industrial forests, especially acacia and eucalyptus. Over the past 12 years, the community's condition has not improved, but instead has experienced a deterioration in the quality of life. Image by Agus Susanto/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Maria Magdalena Wambekai (right) talks about rice planting in Bokem Village, Rimba Raya Village, Merauke District, Merauke Regency, Papua, Monday (11/14/2022). Maria is keen to learn from those who know until they understand and dare to try farming. Image by Agus Susanto/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.


a yellow halftone illustration of a truck holding logs




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