Finding the gold within the green

Emmy Sawaki 1 (1)

Emmy Sawaki visiting Yende Village (May 2021). Her first visit was to build personal relations with women groups and share tips to maintain product quality.

Supporting the growth of local Papuan seaweed businesses, the Green Economic Growth programme prioritises economic benefits for communities and households

After getting our licence, it is easy for us to find a store and café that is willing to sell our products. But they act as a transit market where we can only receive the money after the products are sold. I hope that as more people get to know the quality of own products, we will get more orders from buyers and distributors who  are willing to pay for the products upfront.

Emmy Sawaki, member of the Aitumieri Group.

The Aitumieri women’s seaweed producer group in Maripi, Manokwari received a boost recently when its members got their home industry production license – known as a PIRT – to manufacture and distribute seaweed derivative products. Their delicious crackers, sweets and seaweed biscuits are already well known among their neighbours but now can be sold more widely for example to shops and other businesses like the Swiss Belhotel an international hotel in Manokwari and the grocery store Anggi Mart Manokwari.

This is the second PIRT the Aitumieri group has earned, the first was for banana chips, which the group got following extensive training from the UK-funded Green Economic Growth (GEG) programme in Papua Provinces. GEG supported Aitumieri in their efforts to secure the PIRT, a permit granted by the Drug and Food Control Agency to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to assure consumers on standards and product safety. Aitumieri is designed as a hub for producer groups in Wondama Bay district, its all-female membership are expected to be a resource to provide information, training and other needed assistance for other women’s groups in the villages. So whatever this group learns, it passes on to others to replicate.

3. Penyerahan P IRT Ke Kelompok Mama Mama Aitumieri (1)
Members of the Aitumieri group proudly displaying their PIRT license

GEG helps farmers increase the productivity and quality of their commodities or products through technical assistance, training and appropriate technology and tools. The programme engages with enterprises and entrepreneurs who have a clear business concept and some early working capital and stays with them on the journey to becoming a fully sustainable and bankable enterprise which - if it desired - could obtain a loan from the bank.

Harvesting Seaweed (4)

Working with partners up and downstream to create a stable supply chain

Seaweed is one of six value chains on which the GEG focuses – others include cocoa, coffee, coconut, nutmeg and sago – and the Aitumieri group is only one of many groups up and downstream of the value chain receiving support from and working closely with the GEG. UD Nadifah is a small enterprise that collects dried seaweed from farmers in Teluk in the Wondama District. Although primarily positioned as a buyer, UD Nadifah has had a much wider impact in stabilising the supply chain. Over two years, the firm managed to gain the trust of local fisherman, convincing them of the economic benefits of seaweed cultivation, which is not an easy process. A representative from the company, Pak Banshir, and his team participated in all community activities, such as fishing, finding sea cucumbers and buying community fresh catch from the sea while giving encouragement about the potential of seaweed. They finally got a positive response from the first three villages who were interested to experiment with seaweed cultivation in 2018 and this year they will expand to the other nine villages in Wondama Bay.

UD Nadifah supported the community with a large quantity of propagules (seedlings) that previously had to be imported from Java or Sulawesi with a high risk of the seedlings being stressed and dying on the way. The seedlings are distributed from one village to another and the first to be planted generate more seeds which are then harvested and distributed to members of the seaweed group in a production farm so that the scale of harvest will be bigger.

5. Dominggus Masyewi, The Head Of Fisheries Department Wondama District
Pak Dominggus Masyewi, The Head Of Fisheries Department Wondama District (left).

Today UD Nadifah has eight field staff who are assigned to directly support the farmers, including Pak Banshir who travels from one location to another. His task is to guide farmers on how to cultivate, dry and store seaweed. For the purpose of sustainability, the firm seeks to create local champions in each village to help and motivate farmers.

When the supply chain becomes stable and production is increased, the risk of unavailability of dried seaweed is mitigated, a win-win for the farmers and the UD Nadifah which buys the product. "My target is to cover all Wondama coastal areas with seaweed and for each cultivation location to produce at least 20 tonnes per harvest so that we can send at least 40 tonnes of seaweed per month," said Pak Banshir.

Support from local authorities is key

Wondama Bay district’s seaweed cultivation programme could not have happened without the active role of the Wondama Bay Fisheries Department. Since the beginning of the GEG intervention, cooperation and assistance from the authorities has greatly helped the team and the communities with which it works. This collaboration has concrete benefits that go beyond financial assistance and equipment and improve resource and time efficiency from sharing information and expertise around local conditions.

For example, the Fisheries Department provided its strategic area development map to the GEG to help determine new areas for seaweed cultivation and also recommended several villages where pilot programmes could be launched. These villages receive assistance and investment from the Regency Fisheries Service in the form of training and cultivation support equipment, which shows the government's commitment and expectations for the community. The Department also identified locations for building new warehouses to accommodate the seaweed harvest and facilitate seaweed logistics in the Wondama Bay area. The Ministry of Villages is supporting the construction of these warehouses. 

GEG is a collaborative programme between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the British Government, implemented under the Ministry of Villages, Development of Disadvantaged Areas and Transmigration of the Republic of Indonesia with the United Kingdom Climate Change Unit (UKCCU). This program aims to ensure that the Papua and West Papua Provincial Governments believe in managing green economic development at the local level, and attract investment towards green businesses through a series of capacity building and mentoring, as well as to increase access to financing for MSMEs in rural and urban areas in Papua. For more information, visit https://en.ekonomihijaupapua.org/

Thanks to Ulin Epa, Liaison & Communication Consultant in GEG Programme for Papua Provinces, for the original content and photos.

The formation of small groups in the village is more directed towards family-based groups consisting of fathers, mothers and children because this group is more stable and does not easily sway like groups consisting of a mix of community members. I encourage this because there are many experiences where farmer groups in Papua generally break up easily due to internal conflicts that occur among their members.

Mr Dominggus Masyewi, Head of the Fisheries Department, strongly recommended the creation of a family-based seaweed development strategy and plan.
Ayu Ramanadia

Ayu Ramanadia

Project Manager

Jakarta, Indonesia

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