By: Zufar Fauzan
Papua is one of the regions that has alternative food sources. They still preserve their indigenous primary food source. Most parts of Indonesia have their leading food, namely rice. However, in the Papua region, it is quite different. The people use Sago as their primary food source, even though the tradition of cooking rice has started to enter. As a result of the many conflicts between the people of Papua and timber companies and oil palm plantations, this tradition of consuming Sago will decrease.
The relationship between the people of Papua and Sago is indeed close. For the community, Sago is not just a staple food or a plant that provides natural food for the community but one of the cultural identities attached to the people of Papua. Sago has been the critical food for hundreds of years, which has always been passed down from generation to generation by the ancestors of the Papuan people. With sago commodity, people create their culture and traditions. With sago commodity, the community also has a pattern and way of survival different from other regions.
Like other Papuan people, the people of Klabili Village use Sago as their food source.
The existence of a sago forest, commonly referred to as a Dusun by the community, is located not far from the Klabili village area. Dusun means a place that can meet the community’s needs, starting with food, clothing, and shelter. For the people of Kampung Klabili, the dusun is very important. There are many activities that the community does, starting from punching Sago, taking sago caterpillars from weathered sago tree trunks, and taking sago mushrooms from former fallen sago trees or mushrooms from remaining sago dregs in the dusun. Not only that, the community also uses the sago forest to meet the needs of building community houses. For example, people use sago tree branches as walls for houses or woven/crafts. Besides that, People also use the leaves as roofs for homes.
Dusun is a place where people depend on their life. If there is Dusun, there must be pounding Sago, definitely in Dusun. Pounding Sago is processing sago trees into sago starch, which they can use for other processed ingredients, such as sago flour for papeda or sago cookies.
There are two types of sago trees: sago trees with thorns and sago trees without thorns. The sago tree usually processed by the community is the thorny sago tree.
Logging sago trees must pay attention to several things, such as sago trees that are 10-15 years old and Sago trees with dry stems. After people cut down the tree, for sago trees with a small trunk size, people will remove the skin to reveal the inside of the trunk, while for large sago tree trunks, they will directly cut it in half vertically. Uniquely, the division of sago trees for large stem sizes does not use cutting machines or chainsaws. They still use a simple tool, a wood with a sharp end, to split the sago tree. After opening the skin, people pound the Sago using a special sago punching tool, commonly known as a tokok.
After people use up all the parts in the sago tree, the following process enters the filtering or squeezing stage. Women usually carry out this stage, while the men’s job is to chop and beat it.
Filtering or squeezing Sago still uses simple tools and uses the sago fronds themselves. People use a combination of two fronds of sago trees to make a waterway. The new sago starch will be filtered and squeezed using a filter running water. Sago starch in water will settle at the bottom of the hollow of the sago tree fronds. Meanwhile, People throw away the water and sago dregs. After all the processes are complete, the sago starch will be deposited overnight in the front of the sago tree, covered with fronds.
After one night, only the following day, the sago starch essence will be taken to be dried by hanging it for two to three days at home. After it is scorched, people crush, sift, or filter it again to get fine sago flour. This sago flour filtering can be filtered up to five times to get fine flour. After filtering, the sago flour is used or processed into food ingredients such as papeda or sago cookies.