The imported and convenient food has considered ‘colonizing’ the local food in Papua gradually due to some reasons including transportation and migration.
Easy access of transportation and migration has accelerated the disappearance of the local food such as papeda (Papuan traditional food made from sago), sweet potatoes, taro, red fruit (pandanus) and so on.
Papua Jungle Chef Coordinator Charles Toto told reporters in Jayapura, Tuesday, October 2, 2018, that in the Oceania Parliament session, he proposed a forum to restore the glory of local Papuan food.
“We consider throwing back the local food through the traditional food festival such as ‘eating papeda served in ‘sempe’ as well as other local food festivals,” said Toto.
Furthermore, he said there is a significant change in the local food consumption among the indigenous Papuans. Therefore, the government must take serious attention to this situation.
For example, record some traditional recipes from the elderly. In that way, their grandchildren can learn, know and practice it in their daily lives. Also, the raw ingredients in nature must not remove.
“We explore the traditional recipes that currently become extinct from our parents and try to preserve it,” he said. Moreover, he said,” It is to show the richness of local Papuan food to the international community.”
Toto, who had just attended the Slow Food Festival in Milan, Italy, continued that people abroad were surprised and admired the recipes for the local Papuan food. However, ironically, he said, whether, in Papua or Indonesia, it becomes less popular.
“Papua jungle chef presents our recipes in that event, and also show the identity of Papuan indigenous people,” he said.
“We showed them that we maintain this traditional food, we fight for it and live with it. We want to show to the world that the indigenous Papuans is capable for doing this,” added Toto.
Meanwhile, the Sago Activist Community of Papua is also actively conducting sago festivals in many villages involving the local community. Sago festival consider valuable as an effort to save the sago forests and local spices.
A few days ago a sago festival conducted in Kampung Abar, Ebungfauw sub-district, Jayapura District. The festival will regularly hold every 30 September since 2017. In this festival, sago serves in ‘sempe’, a local name for special pottery for serving ‘papeda’. If in the previous year, it only served 50 sempe, but this time it had at least 150 sempe.
“We are very committed because most sago areas in Indonesia are in Jayapura, Papua, as well as its varieties. Also, Papuans have religious and cultural relations with sago,” said Marshall Suebu, the Coordinator of Sago Activist Community of Papua.
According to Suebu, sago is essential in the culture of the indigenous Papuans, especially those who live in the coastal areas. These local communities have even known this plant and processed it for their daily food many years ago.
Thus, the community that is led by Suebu hopes that Papua Provincial Government will support their activities. He already met some ondoafi (local name for a tribal chief) in Jayapura District to discuss sago and its future conservation.
“(Ondoafi) they welcome us very well,” Suebu said. Moreover, he said they support the proposal by providing lands for sago cultivation.
“In Toware village, they provide 15 hectares for us, while in Evale village, there are 25 hectares. Meanwhile, Abar village has already provided 20 hectares of sago land,” said Suebu.
Currently, Papua Provincial Government has attempted to cultivate sago through the ‘sago movement’ in which every woman has been encouraged to plant at least ten sago trees. Sago is also regarded as a potential commodity and an alternative food for rice. (*)
Reporter: Hengky Yeimo
Editor: Pipit Maizier