Fri, 05 Mar 2010

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:There is a protest against the food estate project once again.

This time it is the Indonesian Environment Forum (WALHI) that has spoken up.

"If this project continues, then Indonesia would enter a period of validated land seizures," said M. Islah, Walhi Campaign Manager for Water and Food in a press release, Tuesday (3 / 2) evening

According to Islah, the land seizures would happen if local and foreign big businesses and small farmers are allowed to compete legally.

From the environmental side, clearing 1.6 million hectares of land will affect ecosystems and the ecological balance

"The large scale forest functions transfer in Merauke, dominated by lowlands and swamps, could cause Merauke to lose its land," said Islah.

This would be caused by loss of forests that will speed up abrasion and sea water intrusion to the land.

In addition, there are concerns that the food estate will cause social problems.

Forests for the people of Papua are economically, socially and culturally important. "Local wisdom invasion would be eroded by the industrialization of food," said Islah.
Not to mention if there were to be a flood of workers from outside. "If 1 hectare of land needs 4 workers, then the food estate will bring up to 4 million new workers," said Islah. Compare that with the 174,710 Merauke population.

Moreover, up until now the government has not found the right formula for infrastructure development. The situation would be more dangerous if the development of infrastructure was given to investors with the lure of incentives.

"So, 5 to 10 years from now there will be no tax revenue in Merauke," said Islah.