Oil palm plantations change the backward, isolated and impoverished areas into a new center of rural development
For those who often explore remote areas, know exactly that the remote areas have no signs of life. Backward in all respects, isolated and poor. Isolated not only in terms of accessibility, but also isolated from the economic center.
The remote areas are often also referred to as the suburbs, because they are marginalized or neglected from all aspects of development. People living in remote areas are mostly local ethnic, poor, underdeveloped, and live at subsistence level. Therefore, if one of Jokowi’s programs “Nawacita” currently builds the suburbs, it is not only accurate, but also has a prophetic mission and statesmanship.
It’s called the mission of prophethood because the development of rural areas is the task of humanity, building hope and a better future, turning pessimism into optimism, and turning “sand” into pearls. Besides, it is also the duty of statesmanship because this is the mandate of the basic constitution which is to build the entire Indonesia, including the rural areas; far from political interests or persona building.
Building a backward and isolated area is not easy. Restricted access, roads and bridges are not available, stagnant economic activity, a lack of local human resources; it is hardly attractive to investment in general. Even such areas are generally not a government investment priority.
In such areas, oil palm plantations have been developed. If the current areas of oil palm plantation centers have become advanced, initially the area was once backward and isolated. It can still be seen if we visit a new palm oil development areas such as in East Kalimantan and Sulawesi.
As a pioneer activity in backward and isolated areas, the development of oil palm plantations requires substantial investment, since it have to start from scratch, such as building roads and bridges, schools, clinics, social facilities, clean water facilities, and houses – after all of that, the planting of oil palm can be initiated.
Once the access is available and oil palm plantation investment has already settled, outside communities start joining in for trading activities, especially supplying the needs of employees of the plantation. At this point economic activity began to grow and it spread out rapidly, with more and more people (including local ethnicities) joining the opening of new oil palm plantation.
Evolution of the development of the rural areas after oil palm investment, gradually there will be growth of new villages, new districts and even new cities; becoming new growth centers. The following rural areas such as Bahar River (Jambi), Pasar Sungai and Lipat Kain (Riau) which used to be underdeveloped are now the new growth centers focused on oil palm plantation. Likewise, Pematang Panggang and Peninjau (South Sumatera), Arga Makmur (Bengkulu), Paranggean (Central Kalimantan), that were previously backward, have now turned into centers of new economic growth. In 2014, about 50 centers of oil palm plantations have been confirmed by the Ministry of Transmigration and Manpower as new developing areas in the suburbs. The evolution of the development of such underdeveloped villages into the center of new oil palm-based economic growth is on going in 190 districts in Indonesia. With the “building program from the suburbs” of Jokowi’s current government, in addition to endorse what the palm oil plantation has been doing, it also injects a new spirit for future expansion.
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