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Exploring Indonesia’s Sago Business Opportunities

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SORONG, DM  – The quantity of the sago commodity in Indonesia is still relatively low since Riau Province has few sago factories which produce raw sago material to be marketed in Java.

Related to this, Perum Perhutani is looking forward to developing the sago industry in the western provinces of Indonesia, particularly in Kais District, Sorong, West Papua. Perum Perhutani is a State-Owned Enterprises in Indonesia, which has the duty and authority to enforce the planning and processing, as well as utilization and protection, of forests.

A biotechnology scientist from BPPT (Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology), Nadirman Haska, said Papua has the biggest sago forest in Indonesia.

South Sorong has 349.000 hectares of sago forests. Perhutani’s sago factory is going to be the first sago factory to operate in Papua, and is claimed to be the biggest in Indonesia.

“There’s already a sago factory, but the processing system was not refined yet. This factory will imitate our system,” he said.

Nadirman also said that 290.000 tons of Riau’s sago has been marketed in Banten, Jakarta, and Palembang each year.

Not only nationally, Riau’s sago has been marketed in Malaysia as well, although Malaysia already has its own sago factory.

However, Nadirman agreed that Indonesia sago production is still below expectation. Based on his data, Indonesia needs approximately 6 million tons of sago every year. Meanwhile, the national production is only 3 million tons.

“We imported 3 million tons every year. If the factory’s production can make up the deficit, we can also get the chance to export sago,” said Nadirman.

Japan is one of the sago importers with the most potential. They need no less than 100 thousand tons of sago per year to produce soba, but Indonesia can only produce 20 thousand tons.

Thus, the sago factory which will start operating in Papua this January is seen as a promising business.

The factory manages a 16 thousand hectare sago field. The annual yield from each hectare could be as much as six tons of sago each year. A sago tree matures at around 6 to 10 years, when it is ready to be harvested.

“We may harvest 100 to 120 trees per hectare per year,” said Nadirman.

Nadirman also considers the sago to be a magical plant with myriad benefits. From skin to pulp, sago can grow well without any special treatment.

Moreover, Indonesia has the largest number of sago trees in the world. The production process should be done sustainably. After the trees have been harvested, a new sago tree should be planted so the population will grow continuously.

“If we manage it wisely, it would be our achievement and we will yield the benefits,” said Nadirman.

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