In a remote area of Papua’s Pegunungan Bintang regency, purchasing staple commodities will put a far bigger dent in your wallet than in most other areas of Indonesia.
For a sack of rice, typically weighing 10 kilograms, people in the traditional gold mining area of Korowai have to spend at least Rp 2 million (S$190), similar to the cost of a low-end smartphone.
For comparison, in Jakarta, 1 kilogram of rice costs Rp 10,000 to Rp 11,000, meaning 10kg of rice costs people in the capital around Rp 110,000.
The massive price discrepancies are not limited to rice. A box of instant noodles costs Rp 1 million in Korowai. Sometimes, people even pay with two grams of gold.
“A pack of instant noodles costs Rp 25,000,” said Hengki Yaluwo, an administrator of a cooperative in Korowai’s Mining Area 33 on Wednesday.
“Ten kilograms of rice costs four grams of gold. If you pay with cash, you need Rp 2 million,” he said.
One can of fish typically costs Rp 150,000, while a cell phone could cost 10 to 25 grams of gold, Hengki said.