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The residents of Bone Bolango are worried that their mainstay palm sugar is threatened by a gold mine

Yusdin Maele climbed a palm or palm tree about seven meters high in Alo Village, Bone Raya District, Bone Bolango, Gorontalo.

Occasionally, the 48-year-old man hits the stalks of the flower clusters from the base towards the flower clusters to loosen the pores or sap waterways. It is said that the action was so that the sap water came out more smoothly.

After beating the stalks of the palm flower bunches, Yusdin started taking the sap water. Armed with a five liter jerry can, he harvests the sap of the male flowers that are next to the fragrant female flowers. The process of taking sap water is usually done twice a day, namely in the morning and evening.

“In one harvest, normally we can get 10 liters per tree. So, if we harvest two times, we can get 20 liters in one tree.

Nira immediately filtered before being taken to the heating place. Anduani, Yusdin’s brother, is in a hut 50 meters away from the palm trees which will cook the sap until it turns into sugar.

Anduani said, print palm sugar when it’s cold. If palm sugar is printed hot, the sugar becomes moist and moldy easily.

Coconut shells, he said, to make palm sugar. Banana leaves, areca nut upih become wrappers after the palm sugar is printed. After all the processes are done, palm sugar is ready to be sold.

He said, making palm sugar in this traditional way has been for decades. It is quite helpful for the economic movement of the community.

“Usually, once harvested, we can print 25 seeds. One seed usually sells for IDR 12,000, depending on the market price,” said Anduani.

He said the palm sugar business has been a family source of income for generations. For almost 30 years, he has been a palm sugar farmer with his siblings. Thanks to the palm sugar business, he can send his children to college. The same goes for other palm sugar farmers in their village.

Palm sugar or as people call it “Black and Sweet” has great potential in Bone Bolango. Data from the Gorontalo Central Statistics Agency (BPS) state that Bone Bolango is a district center for palm sugar production in Gorontalo.

During the 2010-2017 period, the average production of palm sugar was up to 505 tons per year. The lift is bigger compared to other regencies/cities.

With such a large production, the Bone Bolango Regency Government has made palm sugar a priority that can drive the people’s economy. The Regent of Bone Bolango also issued a Regent Regulation (Perbup) Number 42/2014 regarding guidelines for the development of core industrial competencies in the 2014-2018 Bone Bolango area.

In 2017, the Government of Bone Bolango created the Aren Integrated Management Unit (UPT) equipped with buildings for raw materials, production, promotion and product packaging. The UPT is to improve the quality of palm sugar in Bone Bolango so that prices can increase in local, national and international markets.

Imrab Bagu, Head of the Industry and Trade Service (Perindag) of Bone Bolango Regency, said that palm sugar has become the identity of Bone Bolango. The potential is big enough to make the government push for various policies to develop palm sugar, one of which is making UPT Aren.

According to their data, there are 236 palm sugar farmers in Bone Bolango, and even then only in the District of Bulango Ulu. For other districts, including in Bone Pesisir, data has not been recorded because there has been no assistance.

Every farmer, he said, can make an average of five kilograms of palm sugar a day. Or 1,180 kilograms of palm sugar from 236 farmers in a day. He said this number proved that Bone Bolango was the center for the largest production of palm sugar in Gorontalo.

“The government has been committed to encouraging and helping palm sugar farmers for a long time.”

Anduani and Yusdin were also able to make about 25 seeds or the equivalent of 25 kilograms in a day with two harvests. If the price for a kilogram is IDR 12,000, they can get IDR 300,000 per day, or IDR 9 million. Anduani and Yusdin were able to get IDR 4.5 million each.

So, said Anduani, the palm sugar business yielded quite large results. Their family needs too, he said. very dependent on palm.

Fares are included 

Palm sugar, which is one of the economic resources for the residents, is threatened by the presence of a gold mine, PT. Gorontalo Minerals (GM).

Initially, GM received a letter of approval from the president through permit no. B.52/Pres/1/1998, for mining, processing of copper and associated minerals in the Sungai Mak complex, Bone Bolango, Gorontalo. The target for seed production is 5 million tons per year, and concentrate production is 130,000 tons per year.

Bone Raya District, Bone Bolango, is part of a contract of work that is valid until 2052 with an area of ​​24,995 hectares. The concession covers two blocks, namely Block 1 in Tombulilato with an area of ​​20,290 hectares and Block II in Molotabu with 4,705 hectares. The concession area includes 10 villages in Bone Raya District, including the plantations owned by Yusdin Maele and Anduani

Referring to the Regulation of the Minister of State for the Environment No. 05/2012 and Law no. 32/2009 concerning Environmental Protection and Management, as well as Government Regulation no. 27/2012 concerning Environmental permits, then in 2014, GM made an environmental impact analysis study (amdal) which was completed in 2018.

Yusdin said that some residents refused because they were afraid of damaging the environment.

In 2019, GM again obtained a permit for production operations based on SK Number 139.K/30/DJB/2019 dated February 27 2019. The production operation stage by PT Bumi Resources Tbk’s subsidiary reached December 1 2052, or around 30 years.

Yusdin is worried that the mine will destroy their living space. So palm sugar farmers, he said, have been supporting their families for generations.

“I did not go to school and have no skills other than being a palm sugar farmer. If the company operates, all my sugar palms will surely disappear.”

He was once offered to build a road to the mining management center for Rp. 150,000 per day. He refused firmly. Income from palm sugar is still more.

Imran Bagu is the same way. He is worried that the company’s presence will affect the sugar palm plantations in Bone Pesisir. The company, he said, must guarantee the sustainability of the community’s palm sugar.

Didik said that everything had been planned in the community empowerment and development master plan document (RIPPM) made by the company.

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