The aim of achieving ecologically sustainable and equitable growth is within reach of Papua Provinces as the green economy grows, yielding positive environmental and economic benefits.
Despite civil unrest in the latter half of 2019 and COVID restrictions in 2020, efforts to boost viable green businesses and entrepreneurship in Indonesia’s Papua province are paying off. Almost 12,000 Papuans are now seeing benefits from their involvement in pilot inventions across communities, and close to 800 jobs have been created thanks to the development of six commodity value chains.
In an effort to avoid the same fate as formerly forest-rich Indonesian provinces like Sumatra and Kalimantan - which pursued growth at the expensive of natural resources - the Papua province has committed to an alternative economic low-carbon pathway of growth. With support from DFID and its Green Economic Growth Programme for Papua Provinces (GEGPP), communities, farmers and entrepreneurs are receiving support to develop low-carbon businesses and the supply chains that feed into them.
In its third year of implementation, GEGPP is delivering results. Focusing on six commodity value chains – coffee, cacao, coconut, nutmeg, seaweed, and sago – LTS International, part of the NIRAS group, has been working with small-holder farmers and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises to develop green products and services and gain access to markets.
In the coffee value chain, which is already quite mature due to high demand, the team has been helping farmers improve production, harvesting and bean quality but also training baristas in quality and mentoring café owners in business skills. For women like Martina Edoway, coffee farming has enabled the rebuilding of her life after losing her husband and all eight children. In addition to training, Martina and fellow coffee farmers in Modio are being linked to buyers under terms to purchase beans at fair prices.
Martina Edoway, a widow who lost all of her 8 children, has become self-reliant through coffee farming. Here she stands in front of the house she is building with funds from coffee farming.
Other commodities with potential
Previously decimated by disease, another important value chain – cacao – is being rehabilitated with the building of small nursery businesses. The GEGPP team has been in negotiations with chocolate producers to buy the cacao once the trees start bearing fruit and is exploring an opportunity with a factory in Bali to assist in the creation of a Papua-origin brand of gourmet chocolate. GEG’s assistance to the cacao farmers attracted the attention the Packard Foundation who subsequently provided a two-year USD 200,000 grant to support cacao and nutmeg farmers in Jayapura and Fakfak regencies, respectively. As the nutmeg market is strictly controlled, focus has been on diversifying derivative products, such as nutmeg butter, which are produced in low volume but have a high value.
Virgin coconut oil is another commodity with strong potential despite its history of highly decentralised and piecemeal production. In the last year, the team has focused on building the business capacity of the women’s groups that produce the oil. They have supported two promising cooperatives of micro-producers to become high-quality production, storage and distribution hubs for the other smaller groups. Across the entire programme, women represent 65% of all beneficiaries.
In the design of GEGPP, it was assumed the private sector would play a big roles in driving the development of the value chains through the programme’s interventions. This has proved challenging due to the small pool of players who form the “bridges” connecting the value chain together. The team has been very active in encouraging and mentoring potential local Papuan service providers, identifying promising entrepreneurs and providing resources and training. As part of private sector development efforts, young entrepreneurs were invited to an oversubscribed digital marketing training in March where participants created multiple agri-product websites such as this one for Reymey, which sells original Papuan handcrafts.
As there is still a lack of trust between rural agri-producers and service providers, the GEGPP approach has been to use a bottom-up ‘listening model’ to understand risks and tackle them jointly between the producer communities and the buyers and traders. GEGPP has also adapted business planning approaches to low financial literacy and capacity levels. The team has been using a simplified tool called the business canvas, which is the initial step in capacity building on how to plan a small simple business and test commitment to more sophisticated planning. Registered village enterprises (known as BUMKAMs) is also an initiative that the team is promoting as they have the potential to fill a vital niche role for producer communities to try and develop production centres and small business models. In an upcoming pilot stage, the goal is to establish quality BUMKAMs that can be models for others across the province.