After the global food and commodity price crisis of 2007-2008, large- scale land acquisitions by international investors increased rapidly, including in Indonesia. Along with the resurgence of resource-seeking foreign investment, millions of hectares of forest and agricultural land are now being converted into plantations and mining. Across the country, radical changes are taking place in land use as large-scale land- grabbing concessions are granted to a handful of large capital owners.
The expansion of extractive capitalism is the response of extractive capital and natural resource-owning countries to capture “economic opportunities” from the surge in global demand for primary commodities. They ranged from oil and gas, coal, base metals, precious metals, renewable energy, and plantation food products. In the last two decades, global capital ﬂows to developing countries have shifted from investment in manufacturing and high-value-added service sectors to the extraction of natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable.
Facing the swift ﬂow of large-scale global extractive investment, Indonesia continues to facilitate global investors’ access to cheap land and labor for large plantations and mining, even at the expense of the people who lose their land rights. The structure of agriculture in many areas has shifted towards the plantation and mining sectors which produce export commodities, with the concentration of land getting higher as land purchases are speculated.
Natural resource-rich areas in Indonesia have long shown a pattern of development based on resource-led development and have strengthened in the last decade. Approximately 90 percent of the GDP of the national mining sector is contributed by only 100 regions, with the most dominant being Kutai Kartanegara Regency, East Kutai Regency, Mimika, and Bengkalis Regency. The mining sector’s role is prevalent in this natural resource-rich economy, reaching up to 70 – 80 percent of GRDP (Gross Regional Domestic Income), such as West Sumbawa Regency, Paser, and Natuna Regency.
A more extreme situation is faced by areas rich in natural resources and vast forest lands, which meet extractive capital siege from both directions: a mining base and a plantation base, especially oil palm plantations. Some areas rich in mining are, at the same time, major plantation areas such as Kutai Kartanegara Regency, Bengkalis Regency,
East Kutai Regency, Rokan Hilir Regency, Kampar, and Siak Regency. The islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan, and Sulawesi are paradises for large-scale extractive capital.