Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bogor city - Origin of the PNG oil Palm industry

One must wonder where the humble oil palm seeds that now generate about K1.1 billion annually to the National economy came from.
Of course, most people in PNG don’t know and have been taking this valuable agricultural cash tree crop for granted
An oil palm harvester in West New Britain Province. Pic courtesy of PNG Oil Palm Industry image  
But after four decades, we now know where the oil palm seed originated. Thanks to Inter Governmental vice Minister Joseph Sungi.

Intergovernmental vice Minister and Indonesian Home Affairs Deputy Minister Saul Sitomorang exchanging gifts the opening of the 30th JBC meeting at Hotel Salat, Bogor city Indonesia
Yes, the seed was brought in from Bogor city, Indonesia and planted in West New Britain Province in the 1960s.   This city which is 60 kilometers south of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta helped developed PNG’s National economy before gaining political independence from Australia.
Housing estate in Bogor city, Indonesia.
Mr Sungi who is an agriculturist by profession marvelously   revealed PNG’s proud link with Bogor city to PNG Ambassador to Indonesia Commodore (rtd) Peter Ilau when both were touring and admiring Bogor city.
And of course an equally proud Ambassador Ilau revealed this link when introducing Mr Sungi to the Indonesian and PNG Inter Government Border Agencies officers prior to Mr Sungi giving the opening statement for the 30th Joint Border Committee (JBC) meeting. And I can tell you, there was a sense of pride hovering in the conference room at Hotel Salat when the surprised officers from both countries applauded and clapped in joy when learning about the link.
Indonesian and PNG Border Agency Officers attending the 30th Joint Border Committee (JBC) meeting in Hotel Salat, Bogor city, Indonesia
The annual JBC meeting was to discuss issues about managing the rugged 800km PNG-Indonesian border that runs through mountainous and swampy terrains from Sandaun Province in the north to the Western Province in the south. The Sandaun and Western Provinces borders with the West Papua Province of Indonesia.
PNG-Indonesian Border at Torasi River, Western Province.
An equally impressed with Mr Sungi were also the rest of the first timers PNG Delegation who visited Bogor for a week during last month’s JBC meeting.
Border Development Authority (BDA) Operations Director Barnabas Neausemale and Fly River Provincial Government Works Division Advisor  admiring the street pasar ayam ( traditional market)  in Bogor city, Indonesia
Although the arrangement to bring oil palm seeds is not known yet, all I’m aware is that Indonesian colonizers (Dutch government) had set up professional agricultural laboratories and, colleges in Bogor to develop agricultural industries. So the World Bank might have been impressed about Bogor’s agricultural research institutions and decided to bring oil palm seeds from there.

 Oil palm nursery in West New Britain Province. Pic courtesy of PNG Oil Palm Industry
Yes Bogor (in land area is much smaller than Port Moresby )has its own challenges of high rates of poverty, housing, unemployment, inaccessibility to basic social services like health, education. These challenges are caused by the inflow of poor residents of the surrounding rural areas (PNG’s urban centers faces similar challenges). But there‘s always respect for everyone and the environment. You can work alone in the night or even in the Buildings back alleys    or crowded markets without being harassed.

Back street alley of a Housing estate in Bogor city, Indonesia
Despite a good road network system, Traffic jams are also a problem. But there is always tolerance when a car, motor scooter or Becak (bicycle cart for a maximum of two passengers) tries to cross the traffic. We were also been told that despite the traffic jams, there is no accidents.
Overcrowded street pasar ayam (traditional market) in Bogor city, Indonesia
This overcrowded city (much crowded than Port Moresby) depends heavily on the Informal economical sector where there is a huge selling of goods and providing of services on the streets outside public places like hotels and in shopping centers. But there is hardly any rubbish on the streets even though there is also the selling and chewing of betel nuts.
Street kitchen along the street pasar ayam (traditional market) in Bogor city, Indonesia.
And transportation is not a problem where taxis and Becak are always available at a cheap rate.
Fly River Provincial Government border Liaison Officer Richard Aria getting a lift in a Becak in Bogor city, Indonesia.
Land outside  of the city are all occupied in agricultural activities like fish farming, cultivation of rice and  various vegetables like  corn ,  sweet potatos and the production of livestocks like cows,sheeps with poultry projects like chickens and ducks.
Butcher selling ayan (chicken) pieces at the street pasar ayam (traditional market) in Bogor city, Indonesia.
Meat (Daging) stalls at the street pasar ayam (traditional market) in Bogor city, Indonesia
Selling live ikan (fish) at the street pasar ayam (traditional market) in Bogor city, Indonesia
People were friendly with the PNG delegations although communication in Bahasa and English is a problem. But there is always an understanding of each other needs. Whether one wants transport to go to the major shopping centers, or buy fruits at the market or snacks from the street vendors, the residences are always ready to help.
Street kitchen along the street pasar ayam ( traditional market)  in Bogor city, Indonesia
And my goodness, the hotels are unbelievably so cheap compared to PNG standard. The six floor    Efita Hotel that some of the PNG delegates stayed in was only K70 per night (Rupiahs 278,000). It has free continental breakfast and has all the facilities like a premiere hotel in PNG. In PNG a hotel like that can go for about K200 per night.

Efita Hotel
Efita hotel is located alongside an overcrowded street pasar aiyam (traditional market) area and it truly provided a home away of home   environment to us.  Various Fruits and vegetables, poultry, beef, fish (even live fish) are sold here in abundance and at an unbelievable cheaper price. Fish goes for Rupiahs 5,000 (K1.25) per kg, chicken pieces for Rupiahs 30,000 (K7.50) per kg, vegetables Rupiahs 3000 (75 toea) per kg.
Vegetable stalls at the street pasar ayam (traditional market) in Bogor city, Indonesia.
There is also a train station close by where you can get a train ride to Jakarta.

Intercity train rushing through Bogor to Jakarta
Yes PNG especially Port Moresby (compared to Bogor has smaller population and large spacious land area )is going through some tough changes like reforming  its informal sector like betel nuts sales banning in public places ,  re-scoping its current public transport system and road network.

Commuters rushing through the early morning overcrowded street pasar ayam (traditional market) in Bogor city, Indonesia.
Bogor is a model city where their informal sector, public transport and road network systems can easily be adapted to transform Port Moresby and other major PNG urban centers.
A police man hurrying residences across the rail way intersection before the intercity train rush through near the traditional market in Bogor city, Indonesia
There is no doubt that PNG can still benefit from the city that gave us oil palm.
Indonesian Ambassodor to PNG Andreas Sitepu and PNG Ambassodor to Indonesia Commodore (retired) Peter Ilau belting out hit songs during the official 30th JBC closing dinner at Hotel Salat in Bogor city, Indonesia









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