Saturday, November 19, 2016

1) Improving welfare of people of Afrak mountain district

2) The voice of Papuan workers: the companies came and our income dropped.


1) Improving welfare of people of Afrak mountain district
Sabtu, 19 November 2016 19:34 WIB 
Pewarta: Otniel Tamindael
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Although the Arfak mountain area had separated from the Manokwari District to become self-autonomous in 2012, it continues to lag behind other regions in the east Indonesian province of West Papua.

The Arfak Mountain District has high agriculture and tourism potential due to its abundant natural resources, but ironically, the local community languishes in poverty.

Poverty rates are high in mountain areas. Since these areas should also enjoy the fruits of progress, the government needs to address the problem of poverty by promoting infrastructure development, rural industrialization and other development activities.

Improving the welfare of Papua and West Papua indigenous community is on top of President Joko Widodos priorities.

Therefore, the president, better known as Jokowi, had made a commitment to visit Papua and West Papua as often as possible to review the progress of development. 

In addition, the high agriculture and tourism potential, as well as abundant natural resources in the Arfak Mountains must be developed properly to improve the welfare of local community.

West Papua Provincial Government Secretary Nataniel Mandacan concedes that poverty remains a serious problem in the area, although it has massive natural resources, especially in the horticultural sector.

This sector, according to him, can be exploited by adopting modern methods of management to support poverty alleviation programs in this area.

The Arfak Mountains area is suitable for horticulture by adopting ecotourism activities, but Mandacan cautioned that any horticultural development must be undertaken carefully so as to avoid any disaster since the area is prone to landslides and floods. 

He advised to adopt a modern pattern of agriculture in Arfak Mountains, and create adequate facilities for the development of ecotourism.

Mandacan argued that ecotourism holds a great potential for economic development of society in Arfak Mountain District, but it must be pursued properly to mitigate the threat of landslides and floods.

Situated in the south of the West Papua provincial city of Manokwari, the Arfak Mountains District has abundant tropical rainforests.

For several years, the tropical rainforests in the Arfak Mountains have been luring tourists from across the world who come for the endemic flora and fauna in the region.

Tourists can enjoy ecotourism activities in the Arfak mountainous area while exploring the forests for various species of tropical plants.

West Papua Governor Abraham Atururi remains committed to developing all the regions in the province. Construction is underway to improve accessibility to the district.  

The Irai airport in the Arfak Mountains District has been considered feasible for development to boost tourism in the area.

Local air transportation spokesman Maryanto stated that in mid-2015, a verification team of the Ministry of Transportation had reviewed the Irai airport located in the Anggi region.

During the review, he added, the team had found that the runway of the airport could be extended in order to accommodate large-bodied aircraft, but the absence of skilled human resources to manage the airport in the area still posed a hurdle.

Therefore, Maryanto suggested to the local government to hand over the management of the airport as an asset to the Ministry of Transportation in order to be developed immediately. This would make Arfak Mountains a national tourism site.

Behind the Arfak Mountains is the scenic Lake Anggi, though not many local and foreign tourists are aware of its existence.

Indonesia is a country with several tourist sites and places of historical significance. Lake Anggi is one such.

Approximately a six-hour ride from the city of Manokwari, tourists can reach the open area surrounded by mountains with Lake Anggi located below, offering a scenic view and fresh air.

The lake is situated more than two thousand meters above sea level, and the temperature there ranges between eight and 20 degrees Celsius.

Arriving at the lake side, visitors will be amazed to find the locals leading a contented existence, gleefully oblivious to the outside world.

It is an ideal location for a family getaway to escape the boredom of the day-to-day life and avail an opportunity to indulge in various activities, such as picnics, camping, fishing, photography, or just taking strolls along the lake while enjoying the pleasant weather.

Not many outsiders know about the lake, so intensive promotion is needed to increase awareness among both local and foreign tourists.

In addition, the local government has yet to organize and construct supporting tourism facilities around Lake Anggi, a source of revenue for the locals.

Hence, it is the right time for the local government to start building tourist facilities and promoting the beauty of Lake Anggi to attract local and foreign tourists.

Until now, the lake is only visited by people residing around the area, but if it is promoted intensively, it will certainly draw several tourists and boost the local economy.(*)


2) The voice of Papuan workers: the companies came and our income dropped.

When the oil palm plantation companies first arrive in the villages they promise jobs for indigenous Papuans, an effort to implant dreams of improved economic well-being and higher incomes. Once work starts however, the promises aren’t followed through and the imagined changes never come about. Meanwhile, the land and forest which used to provide the community livelihood disappears and control over the land passes to the companies.
This is the experience of indigenous Papuans who live near oil palm plantation companies. Coercive means are used to take their land and then the people have no other choice than to become labourers for the oil palm companies.
Marta Kandam (19 years old) a Papuan woman who lives in Gententiri village, Jair sub-district, Boven Digoel, told of her experiences before and after the arrival of an oil palm company.
“The economy of the community in Getentiri before the company arrived was based on rubber-tapping and our forest gardens. We used to sell the rubber to Pastor Keis. Our monthly income could be as much as 2.5 or even 3 million Rupiah,” she related.
The majority of peoples living along the Boven Digoel river have rubber farms and are dependant on that commodity as their main source of income. According to the head of the agriculture and plantation agency in Boven Digoel, Martinus Wagi, up to 6,000 hectares has been planted with rubber by the local population.
When the oil palm plantation PT Tunas Sawa Erma arrived in Gententiri, Jair sub-district and Ujung Kia, Kia sub-district, they felled and cleared natural forest, sago groves, rubber farms and plantations of fruit trees, which were replaced with oil palm plantation and company infrastructure.
“We stopped tapping rubber and went to work for the company, as unskilled plantation labour. We get paid for every day we work, but it still works out as less than before the company came. After we started working for the company, even if we work really hard, the monthly wage is only one and a half million Rupiah, or a bit less, no more than that”, Marta said, who has been working as a plantation labourer.

“We thought it would get better when the company arrived, but it got worse, even though we work every day, the company counts the days, but our pay is less than before the company came”, Marta said.
According to her, before the company came, people could tap the rubber when they felt like it and they had  time to rest, but their monthly income was better than the income of company workers who work every day.
Paulus Saku, a clan chief and former customary landowner, has had difficulties finding work with the company.
“We’ve asked the company to give us work several times, but the company just keeps telling me ‘where do you expect us to get the money to pay you with’ “, he said.
However, Paulus has seen how workers who come from outside Papua are quickly accepted by the company, and there are more of them then there are indigenous Papuans. A similar discrimination towards Papuan workers has been the experience of indigenous people living in Anggai village, Jair sub-district, where the oil palm company PT Megakarya Jaya Raya is operating.
“For us as indigenous Papuans, if we want to work for the company we have to pass through several steps and meet various conditions, such as bringing a letter from the village head, from the clan chief, school certificates and identity card, and only then will the HR department take you on, but for non-Papuans, if you arrive at the plantation one day, you’ll be working the next”, said Stevanus Mianggi, a worker for PT MJR.
Plantation labourers there also complained about the low level of pay, an average of 1.5 million Rupiah per month, which is below the regional minimal wage for Papua province and doesn’t come close to providing an acceptable standard of living, based on prices locally.

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