The Indonesian environmental NGO Walhi has expressed concerns over the government’s plan to change the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) to a pure food estate. President Joko Widodo considers the food estate is crucial for the improvement of Indonesia’s food security. Walhi argues that megaprojects on national food security like MIFEE go to the detriment of the indigenous peoples and natural forests living in the vicinity of the project area. According to Walhi, the government only changes the project’s name. In contrast, the project’s negative impact for the indigenous population and the forests in the project area remains the same. Instead of changing the Project’s name, Walhi urged the Jokowi Government to change its concept on national food security.
The MIFEE project was initially launched under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to cover 1.2 million hectares of land for the production of cash crops, paper pulp and palm oil (see MIFEE concessions on the map). The Jokowi government later changed the project’s name to Merauke Integrated Rice and Energy Estate (MIREE). However, NGOs and churches in West Papua continued to report land tenure conflicts, violence against land rights holders, deforestation and the impoverishment of the indigenous population in the regencies Merauke, Mappi and Boven Digoel as negative consequences of the project.