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Rice Production in Maroke, West Papua: Is this a Sign of “Papua Mandiri”?

Saturday, October 3rd 2015. | Reality

Central and Provincial Government are right now very proud of being able to produce rice and be supplied to various parts of Papua Province, and even to other neighboring provinces. President Joko Widodo officially and nationally launched the project and by 2016, the rice production will supply to most parts of Indonesia.

The natioanl Antaranews.com says, “The food estate in Merauke is expected to contribute significantly to reaching the self sufficiency target in rice, he added.” It furthermore reads,

“He said the government hopes to transform 1 million hectares of the lands into rice field in 2016 including 750,000 hectares by state company and the rest by the private sector.”

A lot of money has been spent. So many people and departments are involved and on top the President himself is involved very actively. The target is to produce as much rice as possible, in order to reach self-sufficiency in national food supply.

tempo.co on TUESDAY, 19 MAY, 2015 | 06:10 WIB says, “Merauke to Contribute to Indonesia`s Rice Production“.

What is interesting to me as a Papuan, says Jhon Kwano, is that the Government totally forgot and ignore the reality that the Papuan population do not need rice to be self-sufficient. We do not need rice to secure food supply. What we need in this Land is the research and development of sweet potato and sago, not rice.

Developing rice field for the purpose of Indonesia’s national goal is all right, it is in line with the ambition and objective of the national government. But surely, it is not the ambition and objective of the local Papuans. What we want is to be free from destruction caused by planting rice, and other so-called development activities.

Papua Mandiri” or Papua self-sufficiency is not about rice production in West Papua and rice supply to Indonesia. Papua’s self-sufficient  should ideally be wholly dependent on local wisdom, local food, local resources already available here since time immemorial, not importing new things into this island and then calling it a development, a progress, a self-sufficiency project.

Beside all these, Down to Earth concludes,

“The new plans to develop Merauke sound similarly ominous for local people and their natural resources. Despite some positive developments recently, indigenous communities’ right to veto such projects is still widely disregarded throughout Indonesia. In Papua, where special autonomy has the potential to protect indigenous Papuans’ interests, implementing regulations have still not been passed, and central government retains a good deal of control over investment decisions (see also separate article on oil palm in Papua, below).” <http://www.downtoearth-indonesia.org/id/node/379>

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