Sunday, August 31, 2008

“Land of Prosperity to all”: Celebrating Nagan Raya’s 6th Anniversary

Hundreds of small sized red-white flags erected vertically alongside the road to main-town of Nagan raya, Suka Makmue. The whole town seems to celebrate national anniversary too soon, that’s probably what newcomers will think of, but to most people in Nagan Raya, this “show-off” time always comes a month or even earlier before August 17th. That wondrous day is the anniversary of Nagan Raya District. The people in this district celebrate their 6th anniversary this year, sixth times after 2002, when they’ve become separated district, apart from Aceh Barat. Houses and offices, rich and poor, businessman and public servants, celebrate the occasion by putting up lamps and national flags in front of their houses. A ceremony was held; concentrated in the Bupati’s compound, where hundreds of people, young and adults respect and commemorate this occasion, once a year on every July 22nd.

Land of a “million palmoil trees”

My third meeting with Bupati of Nagan Raya, Drs. Teuku Zulkarnaini, was in his official house in Jeuram, where dozens of people visit him for private matters. My meeting with Pak Zul was sort of private, as well. We talked for about an hour and he asked my opinion about his district. Nagan Raya, as I said to him is filled with blessings from God the Almighty. Blessings that not only lied beneath its surface, but the land and all its rich components on the ground, of which not many place in Aceh have the privilege to own one. One of the subjects we tumble upon is the economy and livelihood of people in Nagan Raya, and Mr. Zulkarnaini explained me his administration’s program of initiating a “one million palmoil trees” in all Nagan Raya. His plan was to encourage every household to plant palmoil trees in their home yard, not only on their farm land. No matter how wide or small home yard they have. Every house should grow them as he hoped they will realize eventually that these trees could support family’s economy. Mr. Bupati understands that his people will do what it is need to do after seeing an example, especially great and success example.

This year’s celebration was begun with the launching of that program in Kuala sub-district. As I remembered, the “One Million Palmoil” or “Sejuta Sawit” doesn’t literally meant one million trees in one place or so, but to trigger the communities in all levels of economy to start thinking seriously about what their land is good at. The land of Nagan Raya, especially the Darul Makmur sub-district is well-know for it hundreds of hectares of palmoil, both privately owned by big corporation and by members of the communities. Mr. Bupati once told me that through this program, government will facilitate and handed over some trees to each households therefore in 2012 (then end of first period administration), every household directly or indirectly receive something more from their land. Not only the big corporations.

Land of opportunity

It evidently a factor in all development process in developing or developed countries that people, the community, has an important part in bringing their own welfare. Not only once that a development or ideas of development of which only come from the government will end up a failure, if the “people” factor left behind, or deliberately never invited to contribute in the process. This support from community was shown in every Kabupaten Recovery Forum meeting that UNORC and the Joint Secretariat have had. The government, as in each leading sector that we invited, showed the identical enthusiasm and hope for a better Nagan Raya. The recovery efforts every elements of society, with the help and facilitation from external partners, surely what they need to prepare themselves in becoming independently suffice.

Nagan Raya gain its status as rice stock-house or “lumbung padi” since early 1980’s and President Soeharto once came to the small village in Lueng Baro, Suka Makmue. Once a rice stock-house and now palmoil producer, this district surely can grow anything from its land. What’s underneath her is not less captivating. The land is filled with natural resources such as coal and gold. It even has stupendous geothermal supply, of which an international company will build its company in a short while. Investment in the natural resources in this district is surely prospective and the government opens their door from any investors, domestically and internationally. Nagan Raya has some part of its boundaries to the sea, and the main roads are in perfect condition. Infrastructure in all its conveniences to bring these natural resources in or out of this district is surely won’t be a predicament to bring prosperity to its people. The magnificent potential and all its entire support from the administration add a positive benefit for any corporation to explore Nagan Raya, from deep within and up above the land.

Prosperity to all

The 6th anniversary ceremony which was held in Bupati’s compound was dominantly attended by students and young age adults. The spirits of celebrating its young age anniversary beautified with hundreds of flags waving against the wind surrounding the standing attendees encourage them to a newer commitment to integrity within the unitary state of Indonesia. Unto the hands of these young and healthy generations of Nagan Raya relies the hope and the future of many many years of success yet to come.

It is rather different comparing the neighboring district with Nagan Raya. We never see the outstanding support and enthusiasm of these people to national symbols. It is well-known that Mr. Zulkarnaini is a strong supporter of the national government and Pancasila. His patriotism infected his people towards the same appreciation and gesture to nationalism and spirit of “One State, Unity of Indonesia”. Capturing the scene, and realizing all these facts, we have to be optimistic what the government has done is a good start towards a welfare society. The abundance of productive workers of development, rich and fertilize land, support from external partners, stability of security and governance, bureaucracy openness to investment and support from its people, support from provincial and national administration, all cohesively intertwined in the hands of government and people of Nagan Raya to work harder and bring prosperity to all.

The author is a Development practitioner in Aceh

Working for UNORC

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