Plans to replant newly privatised plantation in Manokwari

sawit ptpn ii prafiLast May, state plantation company PTPN II’s plantation and factory in Prafi, Manokwari was auctioned off to a Chinese company, PT Yongjing Investindo. PTPN II had been operating in the Manokwari area since 1982, and now many of the oil palm trees have passed the productive age of 25 years. Much of the land is not worked directly by the company, but is owned by smallholders who sell their oil palm fruit to the company to process in its factory. Now the provincial government is hoping to launch a programme which will help the smallholders with the cost of replanting oil palm that has become unproductive.

Below is the translation of an article from Bintang Papua about the replanting programme, and also (as background information) an article from shortly after the privatisation took place in May, where local activist lawyer Yan Christian Warinussy raises some concerns about how local government were involved in the auction.

Rejuvenation of Oil Palm in Prafi to involve 4400 smallholders.

Manokwari – As many as 4400 oil palm smallholders in the Prafi lowlands are planned to become participants in a 2014 program to rejuvenate (replant) the plantation. Through this program, the smallholders will be given the facility to borrow money from the bank under favourable terms so they can replant their oil palm which is no longer productive. Of around 8000 hectares of oil palm which is owned by smallholders in and around Prafi (known as plasma as it is tied to a plantation company), around 50% is no longer productive because it is more than 25 years old.

The head of the West Papua Province Plantation Agency Agus. F. Wally stated that his agency had compiled data on the smallholders who would join this program which has been launched by the agriculture ministry.

“We are still waiting for a decision from the agriculture ministry. But then the replanting will take place in stages, according to the year the original crop was planted”, Agus said in his office, on Thursday (25/9).

According to Agus, the plantation revitalisation program has already been extended twice, covering the periods from 2006/2010 and 2010/2014. This extension is because in the previous periods not many smallholders participated.

“There are two objectives of this program – replanting and expansion. In the case of PT Medco (which operates around Masni and Sidey, they want to expand”, he explained.

As previously reported, PT Yongjing Investido, as the owner of cultivation rights in Prafi, having taking over from PTPN II, will also replant its core plantation area of 2200 hectares which is no longer productive. Only 20% of the core plantation is estimated to be still productive.

The suggestion to renovate the core plantation was also voiced by the head of the farmers group Kontak Tani dan Nelayan Andalan in Manokwari Regency Dortheis Paiki in a meeting between farmers and Bupati Bastian Salabai in SP-4, Prafi district recently.

At that time the Bupati said that the local government would co-ordinate with PT Yongjing management so the replanting could take place as fast as possible. This would include pressing the Chinese company not to ignore the rights of its workers, farmers / smallholders, and local indigenous people.

Source: Bintang Papua

[ awasMIFEE notes: As well as PTPN II’s plantation, this article also mentions PT Medcopapua Inti Selaras which has only been operational for a few years, and its oil palm trees are still young. Another point to note is that there are still land disputes in the area. When PTPN II moved in during the dictatorship, indigenous people were not asked permission or given compensation for the use of their customary land by the transmigration program. In some cases this is still not settled, and is the cause of some tension. Both transmigrants and indigenous landowners hope that the local government can resolve the matter with appropriate compensation.]

Auctioning of PTPN II’s assets questioned. Warinussy asks Corruption Eradication Comission and Papua Provincial Attorney to check the auction process.

20th May 2014

Manokwari – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and Papua State Attorney’s office should swiftly investigate the process of auctioning off an oil palm plantation belonging to PTPN II in Prafi, Manokwari, West Papua, which was held on Friday 9th May. This is because the auction was judged to not have followed the procedures laid down by law (Presidential Regulation 54/2010 concerning the provision government goods and services). This is the view put forward by Yan Christian Warinussy, the Executive Director of LP3BH Manokwari. The senior lawyer said that the winner of the auction was PT. Yong Jing Investment, a Chinese company. It is strange because the company was sold for a bid of 80.3 billion Rupiah, much lower than PT Sucofindo’s valuation which came to more than 114 Billion Rupiah, Warinussy told journalists on Monday (19/5).

Only one company (PT Yongjing Investment) participated in the auction, Yan continued, and notice of the auction was only given on 30th April 2014 just a week and two days before the auction on the 9th May,. Meanwhile, data indicates that PT Yongjing Investment had already entered into a transaction concerning the PTPN II Prafi plantation with PT Papua Doberay Mandiri (PADOMA), a business entity owned by the West Papua Provincial Government. This is reflected in a document of agreement to buy the Prafi plantation and assets, which was drawn up without recording the date or place of agreement, but was signed by the President Director of PT Yongjing Investment, Lu Bao Min as purchaser, and PT PADOMA General Director H. Mamad Suhadi as vendor, he explained.

Unfortunately, Warinussy continued, this document makes absolutely no mention of the sale value of the plantation and PTPN II Prafi’s other assets. However, it was signed by Marten Luther Rumadas, the Regional Secretary for Papua Province at the time. The governor of West Papua Province did not add his signature to the document. Therefore he hoped that the Corruption Eradication Commission or State Attorney for Papua could investigate the case by demanding an explanation from Mamad Suhadi and Rumadas, as well as the West Papua Governor Abraham Octavianus Atururi.

The executive director of LP3BH continued to say that the question was what would be the legal basis for Mamad Suhadi to sign an sale-and-purchase agreement for the Prafi plantation The Prafi plantation did not belong to PT Padoma and also had not yet become an asset of the West Papua Provincial Government, because it was still being audited, and so was still owned by the state under the authority of the state-owned enterprises ministry, he said. He also added that the auction value was much lower than the price of 114 billion Rupiah set by the state-owned enterprises ministry, and that this should be investigated by law-enforcers, because it leaves a suspicion that the difference of 26.7 Billion Rupiah may have been diverted by parties involved in transferring the plantation and other assets from the state-owned enterprises ministry to the West Papua Provincial Administration. Also included in that amount is money which has already come out of the provincial budget to pay for all administration and travel costs, and law-enforcers should also look into this as part of their further investigations, he pointed out.

Source: Radar Sorong:

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