Tanggaromi Village, Portrait of Community Independence in Kaimana

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The process of transporting bananas in the Tanggaromi Port to Timika. (Photo: Kaimana Regency Quarantine Agency)

Daylight sun was shifting to the west when EcoNusa team’s car driving unhurriedly to Tanggaromi Village, Kaimana Regency, West Papua. According to Alo, one of EcoNusa’s field facilitators, driving from Kaimana to Tanggaromi took around 45 minutes. Tanggaromi Village is known as the central for banana producer that supplies mainly markets in Timika Regency, Papua. Bananas heading to Timika are fresh as they are not processed for food yet.

Arriving at Tanggaromi, EcoNusa team was hailed by local women who enjoyed leisure time at their verandahs by chewing betel nuts and betel. Looking on their clothes, we assumed that they were just home from their fields. We were then invited to gather at the village hall by one of facilitators who have long provided assistance to the community. He is Anton, a civil servant to Kaimana Regency’s Development Planning Agency. He enjoys helping women in Tanggaromi to manage their crops, particularly banana.

In the village hall, there were 10 local women and 5 staffs of EcoNusa. Anton told the women on the reason to bring the team and EcoNusa information. On the other side, EcoNusa also addressed its intention to have similar activity as done by the women in Tanggaromi in management of natural resources. “We would like to build Tanggaromi to be a self-reliant community. We stand together to learn with women in Tanggaromi to manage the village, process banana and other crops,” said Muhammad Farid, EcoNusa team leader.

One of the women, Mama Teresia, enthusiastically told the audiences  that banana crops from Tanggaromi were delivered to Timika to meet the need of mining companies there. “There are ambon, raja, kapok and emas bananas to we send to Timika,” she said. Banana from Tanggaromi was transported through sea toll constructed by President Jokowi every Saturday of the second and fourth week. These bananas should be quarantined before sending them to Timika by sea. “Each bunch costs IDR40,000 and weighs about 35 kilograms. We formerly sold directly to Timika by 750-DWT small boat. We could get better profit despite the exhaustion as we had to transport and manage them ourselves,” said Teresia.

Tanggaromi Village is located at the estuary of Wondama Strait, West Papua. The community manages local commodities such as banana, dried coconut meat (kopra), coconut. Located on the estuary made Tanggaromi has strategic location in commodity distribution among villages on the coastal bay. Local fishermen and community in Arguni Atas and Arguni Bawah Bays also dock at Tanggaromi to load sea products and field crops which will be transported to Kaimana. Farmers of kopra in the northern coastal send their products to Tanggaromi. With the strategic position, Tanggaromi is deemed Singapore-like to Wondama Bay. The abundant fishery and multifarious crops should pass through Tanggaromi.

Now, the women sell their bananas only up to the local port at Tanggaromi. But, in fact those women should pay extra money to many parties. “We usually should spend extra payment before loading. We should also tip the porters. The condition has reduced our profits from selling banana,” said Teresia. They sell to collector at the port and thus those women do not have bargaining power. “It becomes our problem,” added Teresia.

Anton added information on banana trade from Tanggaromi to Timika. “The trade is done independently so that those women are vulnerable to pressures on pricing. At the end, the women will get less profit from selling banana,” said Anton. To transport by sea to Timika, it should pass the Quarantine Office. Every seller should have permit from the authority here. In one shipment, the Office here should at least issue 7 permits to transport 40 tons of bananas.

It had been three hours for EcoNusa team spending time with the locals. The team was lucky to enjoy sunset on Wondama Bay estuary as one of the best places in Kaimana in addition to Kaimana sunset at the famous Jokowi Iriana park. Having taken some frames, EcoNusa team left for Kaimana. The team promised to get back on the following morning to continue doing on the field together with those Tanggaromi women.

Editor: Leo Wahyudi

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