PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) employee, Octo Magay, creates hydroponic garden that supplies produce to Pengansari, PTFI's food service vendor.

July 3, 2019

On the outskirts of Timika, Magay's dream is taking shape as a hydroponic garden that supplies produce to Pengansari, PT Freeport Indonesia's food service vendor. That means the tomatoes Magay and his farmers grow hydroponically and other produce will provide a source of income for not only Magay but also his 15 employees, many of whom are also recent PTFI retirees. 

It's all part of a Magay's master plan. "I've been trying to convince employees that now that we're retired, we need to find something else to do," Magay said. "I had some research on hydroponic gardening, and I thought it could work very well here."  It's a bold enterprise to take on just as you're retiring, but Magay has been doing bold things all his life.  

The other side of Carstenz
Magay was born in the village of Beoga in the Puncak Regency on the other side of Puncak Jaya and the Carstenz glacier. A member of the Damal tribe, one of the Five Tribes, both of Magay's parents died suddenly when he was just 6 years old. Magay and a group of older boys were planning a trip across the mountains to Tembagapura, where people were working at a mine.  

Barefoot, they journeyed over one mountain range, across the glacier and down to Tembagapura. The boys worked whatever odd jobs they could until they were old enough to get jobs with PTFI or a contractor. Magay started his adult career with a contractor but joined PTFI in 1986 and has since worked in more than 20 departments.  

He is starting the garden with money left over after paying to put his two children through high school and college abroad in Australia. 

While he's paid all the bills, including wages, meals and equipment for his 15 employees, Magay has accepted free mentoring from botanists from a university in Java that have experience teaching farmers how to construct and operate hydroponic gardens.  

A customer in hand 
Finding a customer base is one of the hardest things for an entrepreneur to do. Magay has that one in the bag. 

"It's perfect, because Pengansari has a very hard time getting tomatoes and other produce at certain times," said Joe Fragnito, now retired Manager-Strategic Planning and Essential Services. "He'll be growing his crops right there near Kuala Kencana, so it's ideal to just get them up the hill, and we'll be getting fresher, better tasting local produce for our employees." What's also ideal for Magay's business is he can respond to what Pengansari needs since he can grow just about anything. 

"There is going to be a third party that inspects and audits the garden to approve it," Magay said. "They have guaranteed to buy the harvest, so that's all I needed."   Magay said he will open his garden to tours and school field trips.   "I want the children and others to see this can be done, that they can do something like this and be very successful here with hydroponic gardens," Magay said.   


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