The Lapang School Empowers Papuans of Nayaro with Sago Flour – Maria Renalda Umapi (30) shows 1 kg of sago flour that has been packaged. He seems proud to say that the sago is a product of her group, the Nayaro Sago Group.

“We had ever exhibited it on World Food Day a few years ago,” she said proudly, when met at the Blue Forests office in Timika, Mimika Regency, Papua, at the end of December 2021.

To produce high-quality sago flour and good packaging takes a long processs. Starting from the Coastal Field School (SLP) activities carried out by Blue Forests in Mimika Regency in 2017. A total of 20 women were from Nayaro Village, Mimika Baru District, a village adjacent to the PT Freeport concession area and Lorentz National Park.

In this SLP, they carry out many things related to better management of sago, starting from the way of taking, processing, to packaging in the form of flour. They also learn to process this flour into foods such as sago pizza, empek-empek, ongol-ongol and es cendol. Things they never imagined could be produced by sago.

“Before the USAID Lestari program presents, we only knew that sago was used to make ordinary sinole, baked and eaten right away. We didn’t know we could make all kinds of cakes. We were surprised how it could turn into flour and it could turn into cake, we didn’t believe it. After that, we were trained, studied slowly and finally we could understand and make various kinds of cakes,” explained Maria.

The Nayaro Sago Business Group still exists today and produces tens of kilograms of sago flour every month. Early, there were 20 members, although not all of them were included in the management decree.

“There are a number of members who are not active because they might think there is no ‘sitting fee’, they only come to eat biscuits, but it’s not like that. A lot of knowledge can be obtained here,” she said.

The most memorable thing for Maria was because she was taught how to take sago that was different from their current knowledge.

“So far, we have used manual tools, we only know pangkur sago, an ordinary tool; if we want to RAMAS, we just use natural ingredients, such as the fronds for wrapping sago. Once this program entered, we knew there was a scarring machine.”

According to Maria, before getting to know sago processing technology, they usually sell sago in the form of raw sago which is stored in Tumang. Sago trees are cut down and then immediately wrapped and brought to the city without any processing.

“After arriving in the city, we usually open it and cut it into pieces. We sell the top part for a standard Rp. 50,000, the cheapest is IDR 30,000 per piece.”

By processing it into flour, the income from production can be further increased. One Tumang can be up to 27 kg which if processed into flour can get about 10 kg of flour. In the form of flour, sago can also last longer than raw sago which can only last a few weeks. For 1 kg of packaged sago flour is sold for Rp. 20 thousand.

“Most importantly, from this sago flour, you can make various types of cakes, most often make es cendol, especially if there are events.”

Although their processed foods are not sold yet t public, they are now able to use sago into various types of processed foods, compared to previously only processed in the form of sinole which is directly consumed.

Through this SLP for sago, Maria, who graduated from high school, also gets other benefits in the form of communication skills and self-confidence to appear in front of people, things that previously could not be done.

“Before joining the field school, I did not dare to appear in public or speak in front of many people, I was definitely nervous. After I was given the trust as soon as I was ready. There are also many other members like that, but usually they always trust me to represent.

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