Opium monopoly in 1881


Salt and opium were the subject of lucrative government monopolies from VOC times. To begin with, they were ‘farmed' that is, the right to distribute opium or salt within a district was given to a farmer (pachter) in exchange for substantial payment.  In the 18th century opium was distributed to farm (pacht) holders who enjoyed a monopoly of distribution within their regions. In 1815, salt sales were transferred to an official agency, the Zoutregie, though they remained a valuable source of revenue. The opium monopoly did not come under an Opiumregie until 1894, after a public campaign in the Netherlands against the trade.

Further reading

Butcher, John, and Howard Dick, eds, The Rise and fall of revenue farming : business elites and the emergence of the modern state in Southeast Asia. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993.

Rush, James, R. Opium to Java: Revenue Farming and Chinese Enterprise in Colonial Indonesia, 1860-1910. Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press, 1990.

Map number from Cribb, Historical Atlas of Indonesia (2000)


Year span

1881 - 1881