EcoNusa Outlook 2022: Significance of Building People’s Sovereignty in Eastern Indonesia

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Yuliance Zanggonau shares her experiences in assisting people in Arguni Bawah District, Papua, in the
EcoNusa Outlook 2022. (EcoNusa/David Herman Jaya)

Tanah Papua and Maluku Island have ample natural resources. However, the people’s economy still relies on other parties. The condition makes the locals vulnerable to sell their land to the company. “People’s sovereignty is important so that they do not think to give up their land,” said Bustar Maitar, the EcoNusa CEO, in the EcoNusa Outlook 2022 held offline and online on Thursday, 10 February 2022.

To make the community sovereignty happen, EcoNusa cooperates with many parties, including Indonesian Protestant Church of Muting, in Merauke Regency, Papua. Reverend Baseba Reyna Tuasela shared her story of collaborative works with EcoNusa to generate community income.

As to Batseba, abundant flora and fauna are the blessing for Merauke. There is Bian River splitting the regency. “There are a lot of arowana fish. Marin Tribe used to catch arowana as their source of livelihood,” she said.

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However, the ecosystem of arowana fish has been disrupted since the 90s due to the increasing cork fish which is locally known as gastor (Torajan cork fish). Since then on, the community prefers to sell cork fish. “With urgent domestic needs, they tend to sell raw fish. But, one bundle of fish only cost as low as Rp10.000 to 50.000,” said Batseba.

The church administrators who have concern advised the community not to sell raw fish. Since 2020, jointly with the church administrators, EcoNusa provided assistance to the local community in Waan, Tanas, and Panchas Villages to train them on how to make fish floss. The training also dealt with product hygiene, attractive packaging, and product marketing.

Reverend Batseba Reyna Tuasela shares her story on the collaboration with EcoNusa in the EcoNusa Outlook 2022: Rasa Timur on Thursday, 10 February 2022. (EcoNusa/David Herman Jaya)

To date, women in those three villages could successfully market the cork fish floss. Their products got the market during the National Sport XX in 2021 in Merauke. Cork fish processing could increase the selling point which improve the locals economy. Besides, this also reduced the population of cork fish. “Thus, arowana fish could grow better,” she added.

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According to Batseba, such a collaboration is important to build community sovereignty. “The church does not stand alone. We need collaboration among stakeholders involving government, non-government organization such as EcoNusa,” she said.

Meanwhile, Yulince Zonggonau, a youngster from Papua, also shared her experiences when she worked with the local community of Arguni Bawah District in Kaimana Regency, West Papua. The residents of Egarwara, Wermenu, Kufuryai, and Manggera Villages made nutmeg as the major sources of income. They spend the money from nutmeg to cover school tuition and even wedding.

However, the number of domestic needs has forced the community to sell nutmeg whenever the middleman came despite the raw nutmeg. Consequently, the price dropped. EcoNusa provided assistance to improve the quality and quantity of nutmeg by giving training on cultivation, harvesting, and marketing. “This year the locals will start a sasi (traditional ban for picking) nutmeg,” said Yulince.

Read Also: Boosting Nutmeg Productivity in Kaimana

With the traditional ban here the community will only pick nutmeg on the harvest season to keep it at the good price. Responding to those experience, Bustar highlighted the importance of building local sovereignty among peoples in Tanah Papua and Maluku. It is intended that the community would not rely on outside parties. With the sovereignty the community will not be prone to sell their land. They must not be entrapped in come and go economic lifestyle. It implies that money comes today and it is gone the next day to cover all the needs.

“Indigenous people should enjoy their own natural resources. EcoNusa will always be together with the community to protect the last frontier of Indonesia,” said Bustar.

Editor: Leo Wahyudi & Lutfy Mairizal Putra

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