Cabinet minister visits Merauke to promote the MIFEE project

JUBI: 27 June 2011

On his first visit to Merauke to see preparations for MIFEE, the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate, Marie Pangestu, the Minister of Industry and Trade said that the customary rights of the local community should be dealt with first, by issuing certificates, in connection with the MIFEE project that is being developed in the district of Merauke. The land which will be used for planting must be suitable for whatever crops are to be grown there.

The minister was speaking to journalists after flying over the land that will be used for the MIFEE project.

‘I have been closely following the discussions and reports about this projects which have been taking place at the centre. And now, I have come to see things for myself at close range and I have come to the conclusion that the land is very suitable indeed for agricultural production. ‘

He also said that he had received a short account from the Merauke governmental chief about the plans being made for the project, as well as measures for its implementation and land usage. Companies planning to invest can now go ahead to acquire the necessary licences and start planting their crops.

He went on to say that it was now necessary to build the necessary infrastructure, in particular harbours to support the project once it gets underway. For instance, he said, investors who intend to establish palm oil plantations will need harbours of their own.

[COMMENT: The central government will clearly be investing huge sums of money to promote the interests of companies planning to invest in MIFEE. Not at all clear what is meant by issuing certificates to the local communities whose customary rights to the land will be sacrificed as investors are invited to grab their land with little regard for the loss of their livelihoods based on hunting and fishing. No mention either about whether the rightful owners of the land will be granted any compensation for the loss of their land and the destruction of their livelihoods. TAPOL]

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