Tumalehu Village on Manipa Island
This man has a Sago palm farm near the village of Tumalehu on Manipa Island, in the Molucca chain of islands in eastern Indonesia. This was only the third time
a group of people like ourselves has visited their village. They were very friendly. Some of the
very little children were afraid.The people here
make sago from a special palm tree. Sago is a staple on this island and all over the Moluccas
and Papua because they cannot grow rice. It is made for their use and they also sell it which
brings in money for the village. We were able to watch the entire process from cutting the tree,
scooping out the the pulp from the palm and then watching how they processed it to be stored
or sold. In these islands, sago is eaten every day.
Sago is a major staple food for the lowland peoples of New Guinea and the Moluccas, where it is called saksak, rabia and sagu. A type of flour, called sago flour, is made from sago. It is traditionally cooked and eaten in various forms, such as rolled into balls, mixed with boiling water to form a paste, or as a pancake. The fruit of palm trees from which the sago is produced is not allowed to ripen fully. The full ripening completes the life cycle of the tree and exhausts the starch centre to produce the seeds. It leaves a hollow shell and causes the tree to die. The palms are cut down when they are about 15 years old, just before they are ready to flower. The stems, which grow to 30 feet (9 metres high), are split out. The starch pith is taken from the stems and ground to powder.
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