AKAPe Working for a Better Future for Indigenous People in Fakfak

February 1, 2018. The clock has turned 17.10, and six people from AKAPe (Aspirasi Kaki Abu untuk Perubahan or Aspiration for Change), a local NGO from Fakfak, West Papua, are currently resting after a full day of training. The name “AKAPe” also means “how?” in the Sekar language.

AKAPe is INOBU’s partner for the nutmeg mapping program in Fakfak, West Papua. The program has been running for around one and a half years. INOBU launched a program in Fakfak back in 2016 to sustainably manage nutmeg forests. Our goal is to support the recognition of indigenous land and forest rights while improving the cultivation of nutmeg for the benefit of indigenous communities in Papua.

DSCN0674edit1 AKAPe Working for a Better Future for Indigenous People in Fakfak

Nutmeg has a long and turbulent past in Indonesia. Not many people know that in the early 16th century, Indonesia was then the world’s sole source of nutmeg, leading to conflict among Europeans and the people of the islands of what is now Indonesia. Nowadays, nutmeg in Fakfak, which grows in semi-wild and wild forests, provides economic benefits for local farmers, as they are sold for export as spices or used as ingredients to produce food such as syrup, juice, jam and sweets.

AKAPe visited INOBU’s Bali headquarters from 16 to 18 January to learn more about gender and feminist research methods.

We had a chance to talk to Siti Hajar Uswanas, AKAPe’s Institutional Capacity Building and Fundraising Manager, about nutmeg mapping in Fakfak.

How was AKAPe formed?

AKAPe was created in 2015, initiated by individuals from local NGOs. At the beginning, we were only seven people, but grew to 20 people in 2016. We are focused on the needs of indigenous people, such as things associated with nature conservation or important local produce. We want to highlight local produce so they are better known to the general public. Our goal is to become Fakfak’s local research institution that is focused on all things related to indigenous people. Besides nutmeg, we also assist farmers that plant local crops such as taro, cassava, yam, banana, and horticultural plants such as tomato, mustard, peanut, long beans, and other kinds of vegetables.

How do nutmeg farmers respond to the mapping program?

The farmers are very happy and proud of the mapping program, because through the maps, the farmers are able to know the shape of their land. At the same time, they also came to understand how to protect and manage their land. Since the beginning of the mapping process, their perceptions have begun to change. Now, the farmers are more willing to collaborate with NGOs. However, a number of farmers are still sensitive about the nutmeg mapping.

Can you tell us more about the planned activities for assisting female nutmeg farmers?

A few years ago, before joining AKAPe, I was active in women rights issues. Based on those experiences, I will try to assist a number of nutmeg farmer groups in Fakfak that are made up of housewives. Besides harvesting the nutmeg, they also process and create the packaging for nutmeg products. However, it is very unfortunate to hear their stories about their income from the products that they make. They are not getting a fair share from their hard work. Hopefully, this year I will be able to focus and help those farmers. They are putting their trust in me to find support for facilitating those groups.

What is AKAPe’s target for this year?

We are targeting to map 20 villages, and if possible to be able to achieve that before the deadline.

Hopefully AKAPe will be successful in reaching their target this year!