Food for West Papua: Can Rice Substitute Sago as the Main Course?

Food for West Papua

Food for West Papua

Welcome to Indonesia with all its uniqueness! One of them is that you can find main courses in different areas. For instance, sago as food for West Papua.

Sago as the main course there is basically caused by the land that is suitable for planting, even though it is easy to grow in areas not intended for farming. However, do Papuans not eat rice since it is the national common food?

Rice Potential as the Main Course

Based on the data, about 70% of Papuans consume rice for main course. Why does this happen? Sago as food for West Papua has its own influences. Please continue reading to find out!

Processing Sago is a Part of the Culture

Before rice was consumed by most Papuans, sago became a main course for generations since the knowledge of processing it was passed down.

The process of looking for sago has its own history. People do not go alone, but in groups by crossing quite a distance and challenging terrain, such as swamps. There are also indicators they use to choose the best, for example a stem with a large enough diameter.

The stem is then cut into pieces to make it easier to exfoliate. The inside part is what will become flour for further processing after being crushed by machine or chopped manually. The total execution time takes approximately one night due to the deposition process.

Sago can grow up to 30 meters. By one processed tree, it can produce hundreds of kilograms of flour. This makes it an ideal food to support many people.

Processed Sago Foods Have Good Nutrition

Food made from sago that is widely known is Papeda, which is served with a side dish of fish in yellow sauce. Usually, it is served at important events in Papua.

Besides Papeda, there are various processed sago that are commonly consumed, such as sago lempeng, sagu avatar, and sagu gula. It is not surprising that they consume this plant since it has good nutrition.

Sago has high levels of carbohydrates, but low in sugar and fat. You will also get the benefits of vitamins and fibre when consuming it.

The Benefit of Sago for Health

Sago as food for West Papua has health benefits. People believe that this plant can prevent colds due to extreme weather, fatigue, and lack of sleep. It is also used to relieve heartburn and flatulence.

The benefits of sago are actually more than people believe. This plant can even prevent heart disease, expedite the digestive system, maintain bone and joint health, and help fulfil energy when exercising.

Government’s Program toward Sago Cultivation

In October 2022, the Minister of Agriculture, Syahrul Yasin Limpo conveyed the sago cultivation program now that rice has a higher price in Papua.

Papua relies on rice supplies from other regions, such as East Java and South Sulawesi. Even on certain celebration days, such as Eid, the local government works to ensure stocks can meet the needs of the community for the next few months.

Culture does play an essential role, so sago as a traditional food is still popular. Rice cultivation has also recently been boosted in Papua since the Coronavirus pandemic hit the whole world.

Can Rice Substitute Sago as the Main Course?

Rice as the food for West Papua is indeed consumed by most people. However, the role of sago will never be replaced because it has its own influence in this region. In other words, it is not just a daily need, but contains very strong local wisdom values.

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