Rajawali Group opens 10,000 ha for sugar beet in Paniai

JUBI, 9 December 2011
Abridged in translation by TAPOL

The Rajawali Group plans to open up 10,000 hectares in the district of Malind, Paniai for a sugar beet plantation. In preparation for the planting, seeds have already been brought from West Java after undergoing tests.

The manager of the Rajawali Group Abdul Wahab said that the seeds are currently being prepared in readiness for planting. The process should take six months but because of the heat in the past few months, it may take eight months.  Some of the seeds have dried up because of the heat.

The planting of sugar beet is planned to begin in 20112 but difficulties have arisen because of the unrealiability of some of the contractors. They are busy at the moment with construction work and road building which may require some adjustments.

Wahab also said that a factory will be built in 2012 and it is hoped that by 2014, the crop will have been harvested and we are able to produce red sugar. ‘This is the target for the company and it must be realised,’ he said.

COMMENT by Tapol

The item just posted about the Rajawali Group’s opening up of 10,000 hectares of land for the production of sugar beet in Malind district of Paniai fails to raise the issue of who holds proprietary rights over the land which the company plans to ‘open up’ for beet.

There is no indication about whether there are people who are now living on the land or whether it is an area where the Malind people hunt or fell trees to build houses or for fuel to cook their everyday meals.

Did Rajawali seek the permission of local communities that live on or use the land that the company plans to use for a beet plantation? Were the local communities who, we may assume, use the land for their homes or livelihoods, ever consulted about the use of the land or offered compensation? What will happen to people who currently live on this land? Will they be evicted or paid compensation for the seizure of their land?

Using the land for the cultivation of beet will require a considerable input of labour. Where will these labourers – and their families – come from? Will this require the influx of labour from outside Papua, thus shifting the demographic composition in favour of migrants from other parts of Indonesia and further intensifying the marginalisation of the Papuan people?


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