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The Dream of Solol Village in the Middle of Raja Ampat Tourism
19 December 2023 - by Admin

When visiting Solol Village, we will find a quiet village at the entrance to the Bird's Head sea.


Solol Village is located on the edge of the Sagawin Strait, facing Batanta Island. At certain times, we can see white ships—large passenger ships like the KM. Umsini, for example, passed by. Or fishing boats with twinkling lights as if they were fireflies in the ocean.


Solol Village is located in a small bay between two capes, namely Tanjung Frongket in the east and Selewket in the west. Geographically, the coordinates are located in the quadrant 130° 48' 2.006" and 130° 55' 16.616" East Longitude (BT) and 0° 53' 18.099" and 0° 57' 40.277" South Latitude (LS).


The sea coast is still clean with soft sand, especially in the west. Meanwhile, the village forms a large square with most of the houses made of cement with the church in the middle.


In this village, we will find rows of areca palm trees growing in almost all the yards of residents who garden or are traditional fishermen every day.


"In the past, areca nuts were used as souvenirs from Solol, apart from fruit," said a resident. Pinang Solol is a souvenir for those who come from neighboring villages on Salawati Island or Batanta Island. Not anymore.


Solol's past is also shaped by stories about commodity exchange between villages. At that time, even into the 90s, Solol residents still did not have their own sago village. They depend on a barter system that brings together residents in the Western and Southern regions, the Raja Ampat Islands.


With this exchange, the Solol people brought garden and sea products. From there, they brought home sago and saplings that could be planted until they finally had their own sago village. Now, Solol residents no longer barter to meet their food needs.


Apart from the "sago crisis", at some point around the Pacific War (1937-1945), Japan built a residence in Solol. The residence was guarded by a German known as Mr. Dezh. Mr Dezh's residence is a Japanese satellite in monitoring political tensions around Papua and Maluku. Japanese influence did not leave much of an impression in Solol compared to the arrival of the spread of the Gospel which began in 1912.


Therefore, with all the crossings of history, Solol Village is a coastal village that is accustomed to encounters and openness. One of the oldest villages on the West Salawati coast also has experience in going through a food crisis.


Today, Solol Village lives in the midst of Raja Ampat's worldwide tourism vision. Its neighbor, Batanta Island, is one of the frequently visited destinations. Especially if we talk about Waisai which is the main destination in Raja Ampat. In fact, tourism is a major tool that supports development in West Papua, not just in Raja Ampat.


But Solol, which also neighbors the North Salawati Nature Reserve, does not see itself in the major discourse above. In Solol, at least until 2022, we will not find any homestays built by the government. Or we find a special area designated as a diving spot.


The natural wealth of this village, which has a population of around 400 people (2021), depends more on garden management, apart from fishing to meet household needs.


Because of this, there is a dream of becoming a buffer for the core tourism area. Grizon Krey, one of the young people from Solol village who is also the organizer of Bentara Papua, said that Solol Village has the opportunity to become a commodity producer by utilizing the potential of available natural resources. This process is starting slowly.


One of them is by utilizing the existence of the Bentara Papua station. The realization begins with processing coconuts and bananas, which are the main crops in the village. The results in the form of coconut oil, VCO, bath soap and banana flour have also begun to be promoted to every resort in the tourism area. Apart from that, it was also distributed to Sorong City and brought to Manokwari through the Bekal cooperative.


What is also important to underline is that this series of local resource-based commodity production activities involves women or mothers. And also involving young people. Every day, they gather and make preparations from bananas and coconuts.


So far, the impact that has begun to be felt is that the processed coconut and banana production from Solol is starting to become known to residents in nearby villages, such as Weibon, Weidim and Kalyam. The Regency Government also appreciates this effort and supports capital assistance for the mothers involved.


The learning and successful practices carried out together at the Bentara Papua station are now also being expanded to surrounding villages. One of them is also collaborating with churches and neighboring village governments through training.



Challenge. In the future, apart from maintaining consistency in production quantities and quality, the dream of becoming a tourism supporting village requires regulatory and institutional support at the inter-village level. Especially in utilizing the function of Village-Owned Enterprises (BUMKam) as a container and distributor of processed products. At the same time, the regional government plays a role by encouraging related agencies, such as the Cooperatives and MSMEs Department, to be actively involved in efforts to assist and market products made by women and youth in Solol.


Of course, Solol is a start. The relevant parties, including the village government, regional government, tourism entrepreneurs and Bentara Papua, should develop a collaborative scheme based on territory and local resources.


That way, it seems, villages that have a non-tourism vision can remain players, not spectators amidst the glittering tourism of Raja Ampat.

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