Oil Palm Has Advanced Transmigration Area

Transmigration Program is one of the new order government programs which aims at creating new centres of economic development outside the island of Java. Java and Bali were the biggest senders of transmigrants who were then moved to remote or rural regencies of Sumatera, Kamimantan, Sulawesi and Papua. It was recorded that there were around 1 million households were transmigrated  until 1985.

Until 1990, due to its failure in creating new centres of economic growth, transmigration program received a lot of heavy criticism from the experts, moreover, it even created new vessels of poverty outside Java. Many experts at the time considered transmigration as the means of poverty transfer. That was in part due to the remote position of the area and severe road access that made food agriculture – which became the main business of the transmigrant families- difficult to be developed and marketed.

The portrait of impoverished and underdeveloped transmigration areas had started to change in 2000. The development of partnership between transmigrant farmers and corporates (private and state-owned) that had resulted in easy road access, farming input availability, and  a guarantee of produce markets has transformed many transmigration areas.

As reported by the Ministry of Transmigration and Manpower of the Republic of Indonesia (2014), there were more than 50 transmigration areas that had changed into new oil palm based economic growth areas until 2013. Among which were Sungai Bahar (Jambi), Pematang Panggang, and Paninjauan (South Sumatera), Sosa (North Sumatera), Arga Makmur (Bengkulu), Sungai Pasar and Lipat Kain (Riau), Paranggean (Central Kalimantan), Mamuju (West Sulawesi), and others.

Transmigration areas which were previously considered as impoverished and underdeveloped areas have now transformed into new centres of economic growth. Not only have the areas managed to draw level with the economic growth of the areas surrounding them, their development have exceeded theirs.

Oil palm based transmigration areas have become regional economic drivers. The oil palms community are the targeted market of local produce and urban products. This means that transmigration areas are becoming more inclusive every day. This affects the development of other sectors in the surrounding areas.

However, the development of the oil palm based transmigration areas also created several other socal economic issues. One of which is progress inequality between more advanced transmigration areas and surrounding areas that are relatively left behind (reversed conditions from the beginning of the transmigration area), though it is all still in the development process. The the more inclusive of the oil palm based transmigration areas, it will accelerate the regional economic growth of the left behind surrounding areas. It takes time and patience.

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