Farming at the Margin of LLNP

I managed to rent a motorbike from a villager and decided to explore the north area first. One kilometer from Watutau, I took a path off the road. Passing a coffee and cocoa plantation, I ended up at a wooden house. The owner was from South Sulawesi, the most populated area in Sulawesi Island. He came here for a better living three years ago. He leased the bush land from the indigenous people, and cleared it up before planting it with crop plants, cocoa trees, and coffee trees.

I also visited the family at the other house. They had been there for ten years and their cocoa trees had been productive. However, by looking at the condition of the house, I saw them still live poorly. “The quality of the cocoa is not too good,” the head of household explained why they did not make a lot of money. For one kilogram of dry cocoa nuts, he only received 18,000 rupiah (~USD 2.00); it is a lot of work and time-consuming to produce that amount.

At a different location, I visited another migrant family by the margin of the Park. They are from East Java and, again, the lack of the farm land, adequate education, and job skill are the reasons to settle down here. Very obvious that the land they are farming is part of the Park because I saw the pole. Driving them out is inhumane because it will certainly cause suffering to them, especially their children. We have to find a win-win solution: both human and wildlife live in peace side by side. And it is possible around the Napu valley to happen because unused land is vast; what they need is a good irrigation system to avoid slash-and-burn cultivation system.

For the next four days, I talked to the farmers along the margin of the Park. They came from either Java or South Sulawesi. Landless farmers in the origin villages and having moved around in the urban areas are the typical history of these migrants. Although their life here is simple, the condition is better than the ones before. They have secured a farm land, either by rent or purchase, that gave them a constant income if they work hard.