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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Agricultural land use alternatives in regional planning : a case study of West Pasaman area development planning West Sumatra, Indonesia Pandjaitan, Sarda Vincentius


This thesis investigates the problems involved in determining the appropriate use of agricultural land in its relation to regional planning. For the purpose of this investigation, the West Pasaman Development Plan has been chosen as a case study. The Development Plan for West Pasaman was drawn up by the Institute for Development Research--IDR, a consulting firm from West Germany, in 1975. The study team proposed five crucial projects to be developed within a ten year period (1975-1985). Two of these five projects, i.e., a new main road and an oil palm smallholder scheme were given priority. The priority for the oil palm smallholder project was based upon conventional economic criteria. Two important aspects were ignored. First, the physical characteristics of the site, including water resources, were not assessed, and secondly the needs of the existing population were not considered. In this thesis, three factors, the physical characteristics of the site, the social aspects of the population and economic feasibility were chosen as the criteria to determine the appropriate use of the agricultural land. The area of investigation is made up of two parts. The first part of 13,000 hectares is government land which, at present, is underutilized. The second part, consisting of 11,000 hectares, is private and communal land run by smallholders. The study team's report failed to account for the existing land use of this 11,000 hectares and therefore it is on this area, of land that the investigation has concentrated. It is found that the land being studied is physically suitable for rice cultivation. Oil palm cultivation does not appeal to the farmers in the study area because they are unwilling to move into new cultivation practices as they feel safer growing rice and other crops with which they are familiar. It seems an irrigation project is the most desirable government project for the study area. This would appear to confirm Indonesian national goals, which emphasize self-sufficiency in food production. If the available water resources of the study area (the Batang Tongar River) could be fully utilized, it is found by using economic data on returns per hectare per year, that double cropping rice with new high yielding varieties would yield a higher return to the farmers than oil palm. Thus, it is concluded that wet rice agriculture (double cropping) would be a more effective use of the 11,000 hectare area than oil palm. The thesis emphasizes that the physical characteristics of the site and the social aspects must be considered in determining the appropriate use of agricultural land in addition to the economic criteria. The thesis concludes with the discussion of the methodological limitations of the study and makes a plea for regional planners to utilize some of the new ideas of "development from below" and integrated regional development

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