Palm Oil Succeeds Transmigration Areas

The Transmigration Program is one of the government programs especially in the New Order Era which aims to create new centers of economic growth outside of Java. Java and Bali are the largest senders of transmigrants placed in remote/inland districts in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Papua. Until 1985, the number of families transmigrated reached around 1 million households.

Until the 1990s the transmigration program was indeed criticized by many experts because it failed to develop into new centers of economic growth, even instead becoming new enclaves of poverty outside of Java. So that many experts at the time considered that the transmigration program was only poverty transfer. The reason is that food agriculture, which is the main business of transmigrant families, is not developed due to remote locations, poor road access, making farming inputs difficult to enter and agricultural products difficult to market.

The portrait of underdeveloped and poor transmigration areas began to change since 2000. Development of an oil palm partnership between transmigrant farmers and corporations (private and state-owned) where road access is opened, inputs are available and marketing of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) is guaranteed, has changed many transmigration areas.

As reported by the Ministry of Transmigration and Manpower of the Republic of Indonesia (2014) up to 2013 more than 50 transmigration areas have been transformed into new palm oil-based economic growth areas. Among them are the Sungai Bahar (Jambi), Pematang Panggang and Paninjauan (South Sumatra), Sosa (North Sumatra), Arga Makmur (Bengkulu), Sungai Pasar and Lipat Kain (Riau), Paranggean (Central Kalimantan), Mamuju (West Sulawesi), and other regions.

The transmigration area, which was labeled by experts as a poverty and underdeveloped region, has now turned into a new center of economic growth. Not only able to pursue economic growth in the surrounding area, even transmigration areas have exceeded the development of the surrounding area that is not a transmigration area.

The palm oil based transmigration area has become a regional economic locomotive. The community of oil palm plantations has become a market for local agricultural food products and even a market for products produced by cities. This means that transmigration areas are becoming more and more inclusive, which has a wide impact on attracting the development of the sector and the surrounding area.

Of course, the development of the palm oil-based transmigration area also raises a variety of new socio-economic problems around it. One of them is the imbalance of progress between the more advanced transmigration areas and the surrounding areas which have become relatively underdeveloped (conditions reversed from the initial transmigration area opened). But all of that is still under construction. With the increasingly inclusive growth of oil palm-based transmigration areas, will gradually attract the acceleration of the growth of the surrounding disadvantaged areas. It takes time and we need to be patient.

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