Preserve Papua Papeda Sago Culinary, Never be Replaced by Rice! – Papuan people have a special culinary made from sago called papeda. A researcher from the Papua Archaeological Center, Hari Suroto, said papeda is the oldest culinary dish and has existed since prehistoric era. The evident is the findings of pottery and stone tools of Tokok Sagu at archaeological sites in the Lake Sentani area.

Unfortunately, as stated by Hari Suroto, the rapid development of infrastructure in Jayapura Regency has resulted in the loss of many sago trees around Lake Sentani due to cutting down. “The sago trees were cut down because the area will become an alternative road, the venue for the  PON XX of Papua, and housing,” said Hari Suroto on Sunday, September 12, 2021.

Not only for infrastructure development, Hari Suroto explained, the sago trees also have the potential to become extinct because the Sentani people prefer to use efficient modern machines of sago processing, so that, the process of making sago starch is faster and more practical. “This processing is not comparable to the slow growth of sago palms,” he said.

This sago processing machine is capable of grinding more sago trunks. However, according to Hari Suroto, this rapid production is not accompanied by replanting of sago tree seedlings. In fact, the sago tree growing in the Lake Sentani area, said a lecturer in archeology at the Cenderawasih University in Papua, has existed since the time of our ancestors. “The tree grows naturally, not planted,” he said.

An archaeological evidence shows the use of sago as a food material has existed since prehistoric times. The research at archaeological sites in the Lake Sentani area found the pottery artifacts and  stone tools of sago grinder. This pottery is for cooking papeda or sago porridge.

“Preserving the sago forest means maintaining food endurance,” said Hari Suroto. If the sago tree is no longer in Lake Sentani, then people who want to make papeda must import sago from Papua New Guinea. “Don’t let sago culinary be replaced by rice.”

To preserve the existence of sago forest and cultural traditions related to sago, Hari Suroto considered it necessary to campaign for sago forest conservation and replanting sago trees in the Lake Sentani area. Various festivals related to sago also continue, such as the Kwadeware Sago Festival, the Yoboi Sago Caterpillar Festival, and the Papeda Eating Festival in Pottery in Kampung Abar.

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