Indonesia's Rimba Raya to grow lucrative cash crops, InfiniteEarth invites partners
By Celine Chen
INDONESIA, NNA - InfiniteEARTH Ltd., the project developer of the huge Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve in Indonesia, plans to reforest 10,000 hectares of land over the next 10 years with the planting of cash crops.
Starting with an initial 2,400 hectares in a new five-year plan, the innovative agroforestry initiative calls for the development of community farms using the "jungle crop" model in the 64,500-hectare reserve in Central Kalimantan province on Borneo, one of the largest islands in the world.
InfiniteEARTH's feasibility study identified 16 species of native cash crops to be grown in the reserve, which is nearly the size of Singapore, and one of the world's biggest initiatives to preserve tropical lowland peat swamp forests.
The lucrative crops include durian, rambutan, gembor, jengkol and cempedak, all of which have readily available markets, said the Hong Kong-based company that develops conservation land banks and provides environmental offsets to companies across the globe.
Indonesia's agricultural sector has remained strong amid the COVID-19 pandemic, accounting for 2.95 percent of the country’s GDP.
The government has quickly launched agricultural development projects to boost food security as well as incomes for farmers and fishermen.
The Rimba Raya plan is funded through an agreement between Carbon Streaming Corporation and InfiniteEARTH.
It facilitates PT Rimba Raya Conservation's restoration concession obligations to promote economic diversification and autonomy of the local forest-dependent communities besides contributing to Indonesia's efforts in meeting climate and sustainability goals.
The agroforestry initiative is allocating $10 million in funding over the next five years, with $2 million being released to start development immediately, said InfiniteEARTH in a press release on August 16.
Potential partners with experience in the agroforestry sector are being identified. Interested Indonesian companies are invited to respond via this link - https://infinite-earth.com/documents/RFP_InfiniteEARTH_Agroforestry_Final.pdf.
A significant amount is spent on drilling freshwater wells for irrigation through the dry season. The wells will also help facilitate fire suppression in previously inaccessible areas.
Much has also been invested in fire prevention as well as collaboration with the regional disaster management agency and the Tanjung Puting National Park.
A network of wellheads throughout the project area will allow staff to combat any fires caused during the oil palm burning season.
The rehabilitation area has peatlands degraded by historic shifting agriculture in the past and fires induced by oil palm burning in 2015 and 2019, both of which saw Singapore shrouded in haze for months.
The plan also provides more funding for education scholarships and a floating health clinic to provide eye and dental procedures as urgently required by the community.
It also contributes a significant amount annually to the Tanjung Puting National Park's conservation efforts in collaboration with Rimba Raya.
While InfiniteEARTH said it is committed to the new 5-year plan, it will adjust accordingly to changes in governmental policies and goals for climate change and sustainable development.
Rimba Raya projects are designed to meet the United Nations' sustainable development goals. They include the transfer of low-impact technologies such as solar and fuel-efficient cookstoves, aquaponics, agroforestry models, and social benefits in health care and childhood education.
Indonesian president Joko Widodo has recently called for food park projects to be launched in Central Kalimantan and North Sumatra to make it easier for farmers to obtain assistance such as financial means from the government and private sector.
The government is also promoting export-oriented horticulture to increase farmers' incomes.
Although the industrial, commercial, construction and mining sectors contribute significantly to Indonesia's GDP, only the agriculture sector has remained resilient during the pandemic.
President Widodo has appealed to Indonesian banks to support the agriculture sector, which has performed well in increasing exports apart from remaining strong in local markets.
He urged banks to empower farmers with access to capital and technology innovation, noting that many Indonesian produce have the potential to become superior, value-added exports.