Jayapura, Jubi – Lawmaker John Gobai, who is also the secretary of the Papua Customary Council, said that the sago forest in Papua kept shrinking due to land clearing for development and other plantations. He said the sago forest must be saved as it was lifeblood to the Papuans.
Sago is a starch extracted from the trunk of tropical sago palm trees (Metroxylon sagu). It is a versatile main staple as it can be used in various cookings including making puddings, noodles, bread, and as a thickener for other dishes. The Papuans cook sago with water to create the traditional dish papeda, a glue-like paste, and enjoy it with yellow broth and fish, as well as stir-fried papaya flowers, melinjo leaves, and water spinach.
Gobai said there must be a policy to limit land clearing which threatens the existence of sago forests. “Whether it is for oil palm plantations, road opening, or housing construction,” he told Jubi on Tuesday, June 1.
Gobai also suggested the need to open a sago hamlet to boost the local economy. “So that the sago forest could provide not only subsistence but also a cash crop,” he said.
Therefore, Gobai said, the government needed strategic efforts to protect and develop sago in Papua. “In regions where they have sago potential, there needs to be a special sago agency to support the people with training and equipment for sago processing,” he said.
A sago palm tree, Gobai said, has many benefits other than providing an important food source. Its leaflets can be used to build a roof intact for up to five years while the dried petioles are light and can be used to make walls, ceilings, and rafts.
In a webinar conducted by the Papua Jungle Chef Community, chef Charles Toto said there were 39 types of sago in Papua. He said seven out of ten types of sago could be consumed by humans while the others served to maintain the ecosystem.
“There is special sago for sago caterpillars, the larvae of sago palm weevil. There is also special sago for making bread, when it is harvested there is no fiber and this type of sago can also be turned to sugar because the stems are quite large,” said Toto
Reporter: Arjuna Pademme
Editor: Edho Sinaga