Papua Faces Challenges in Achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

PIRAMID (JAYAWIJAYA) - Government agencies and civil society in Papua and West Papua provinces are joining the global effort to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), but the easternmost provinces remain the most challenging region in Indonesia in attempting to achieve them.

Papua remains Indonesia’s poorest region, with 31.11 percent of the population in 2012 living below the poverty line. More than 70 percent of its population lives off agricultural activities.

However, rural areas are seeing the young moving to the cities and neglecting the fields. “A lot of young people go to the cities where they end up becoming thieves. They live there [in the cities] and many wind up dead,” said Petrus Wenda, a farmer in Piramid district, Jayawijaya

Some local farmer groups, with the help of international development agencies and regional government, are developing programs to empower farmers and support the local economy. In Serui, Yapen Islands regency, a local cooperative is training farmers to cultivate vanilla pods for export. Meanwhile, Jayawijaya Agriculture Agency head Paulus Sarira said that his office was working to make sweet potatoes a source of income as well as a key food source for local families.

To speed up development in Papua, the government established in 2011 the Papua and West Papua Development Acceleration Unit (UP4B). One of the central government’s efforts in tackling food security is the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) in the southern part of Papua province.

The project aims to cover 1.2 million hectares of agricultural land by 2030. By 2014, the project is targeting more than 200,000 hectares. Activists of indigenous people’s rights, however, criticize the project for jeopardizing the traditional livelihoods of the Marind people who live there. [TheJakartaPost]
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