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Home » Bandarlampung: Sumatra’s Southern Gateway » Lampung, Java’s Hinterland: producer of rice, maize and coffee

Lampung, Java’s Hinterland: producer of rice, maize and coffee

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Overview

Towards the end of the 19th century, Lampung, located at the southern most top of the island of Sumatra was still covered with dense jungle with sparse inhabitants, while Java was already overcrowded. It was then, that the Dutch colonial government, implementing the so called “ethical policy” decided to migrate villagers from Central Java to resettle in Lampung.

The first chosen were inhabitants of the village of Bagelen in the regency of Kedu (today called Purworejo) in the middle of the island of Java. At that time inhabitants on Java numbered 425 per square kilometer compared to a mere 2 or 3 persons per square kilometer in Lampung, recounted Wakidi, history lecturer in the University of Lampung.

The first group of migrants – later called transmigrants, meaning resettled people from one island to another within the Indonesian archipelago – numbering 155 families, arrived at the small port of Teluk Betung, at the most southern part of Lampung in November 1905. Teluk Betung had only just been rebuilt after the catastropic eruption of the Krakatau Volcano in 1883, located in the Sunda Strait between Sumatra and Java, that generated 36 meter high waves which swept over and completely razed the coasts of Lampung on Sumatra and Banten on Java.

The first group of migrants were settled at Gedong Tataan as the first area for transmigration. The migrants were given support of a 20 guilders bonus, 40 cents per day for living and agricultural tools to the value of 13.50 guilders. They were also provided with wooden houses, examples of which can still be seen at the Transmigration Museum at Gedong Tataan.

Many of these original migrants, however, either returned to Java or went to work at plantations, since the soil turned out to be infertile.

In 1930, the Dutch colonial government improved preparations in transmigration locations, building irrigation channels along a stretch of 100 kilometers from Central Lampung to Metro.

Other areas opened were Wonosobo – now called Tanggamus – and Sukadana in East Lampung.

This resettlement program – called transmigration - was continued well into modern Indonesia times.

Today, Lampung has grown into one of Indonesia’s top agricultural areas, producing rice, maize, and coffee. Lampung is now the third largest producer of rice outside Jav a, after South Sulawesi and West Nusa Tenggara only. Lampung is also the third largest producer of maize in the country. The region of Tanggamus is today also known as producer of Lampung coffee.

Today, of the province’s 7.6 million inhabitants, 62 percent are of Javanese descent, 9 percent are Sundanese from West Java, while only 25 percent of the population are indigenous to Lampung.

(Source: Kompas Daily)

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