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May 21, 2018

3/5/18 SAGO - PROSPECT AND THE DARK SIDE OF THE COMMODITY (DRAFT)

INTRODUCTION:

Sago, sagu, sasak, rumbia, lumbia, masago yashi as the plant is internationally, Indonesian, Papua, Malay, Tagloq and Japanese-wise known is a very unigue and Allah blessed plant. In Latin it is known as Metroxylon sagu. This is the only plant that bears starch in its trunk as compares to others which are either tubers and or cereals. Sago belong to the palmae plant family. Sago is among the few palms that bear starch in the trunk as compares to other palm species which mostly bear friuts of different types vis coconut, nipah, areca, etc. To the native of Brazil, Borneo, Papua etc, the real delicacy of sago is the sago warm (the larve of rhinoceros bettle), the milky high protein stuff taste as peanut once roasted as many said, but I dare not try.

(2) My aim of writing this article, is to support international interest over the plant as source of human energy, pharmaceutical, biofuel, and even for the aquaculture and livestocks development. I believe, based on my experiences, knowledge and even personal perception, this plant warrant a just treatment as a gift from Allah for all humankind. I'm having a strong believe that after Taib Mahmud is no more the Chief Minister of Sarawak and with the hungger for faster return of investment; ROI, Sarawak will not be able to succeed to make sago as its prime agriculture commodity. Accordingly after Peter Chin had left MoPIC, the interest over sago at the Federal Ministry level is subsiding fast. I dare to say, Sago Industry in Sarawak (and Malaysia) will die to its natural course. Thus, I have lost patient and passion to see the growth of Sago Industry in Sarawak, thus I would like to throw this idea of Sago great prospects for international people to pick it up especially among the Japanese, Chinese and Indian. Nonetheless, Mahathir now is back as the PM of Malaysia where in his era, sago plus jatropa and jute (?) had been identified as new agriculture growth area. MoPIC was then tasked to advance the R&D on these crops. Now he is back, will he still remember his directive on the matter?

(3) This writing is not a comprehensive presentation of Sago as a whole, but as much as possible I'll dwell on its key economic, agronomic resource, and some technical advantages over especially oil palm and rice. My direct involvement in the sago industry began in 2003, but I need to leave the whole system by 2011. There are substatial writing on the sago technicality and or ethno-botany availbale in the internet, but very less on the economic and commercial aspect of its. Accordingly, the primitive sustenance of the Indonesia and PNG sago industry is all about the incapable of their government in dealing with the heritage Customary  Land Tenure Sytem of the Far East Pacific. Papua and Papua New Guinea plus all those sago islands in the eastern Indonesia, not only they could meet the vision of Isao Nagato, but most important, the nurturing and advancement of the sago commodity from my personal perspective, definitely would transformed their people livelihood be even better that of the oil palm industries. Sago is starch-based, a non-competitor to oil palm and alike. Maize and potatoes can the threat to the development of sago industry and vice versa. Australia interest to protect marshland forest of PNG and Indonesia, I would say may have such agenda in their mind.

ECONOMIC:

(1) Sarawak is the world champion for sago industry. Since 1880s, Sarawak is world sago exporter despite probably having the least area of natural sago. Sarawak had developed the finest processing technology which is home grown by a cartel of smallscale industrialists. Papua (Indonesia) and Papua New Guinea are homes for the world natural sago. In both Country, they have at least 5.00 million hectares of natural sago land. I can foresee the diminishing of sago industry in Sarawak is mainly due for Sarawakian had been seeing sago nothing beyond the linut ie boild sago flour and or dried sago granule which has very limiting acceptance as source of food even among the local. Thailand despite having lesser sago area within the Nara-Pattani region, their sago food-based application industry is doing far better than Sarawak. Indonesia, definitely is the world largest sago flour producer, but due to their large population, their sago is all eaten as bakso. The Papua sago industry remain as the traditional Sarawak in the 1930s. 

(2) The international interest over sago was officially recorded in 1976 when an International Sago Symposium was first held in Kuching through the initiative of the Dr. Isao Nagato who provided financial support to fund the Society for the Sago Palm and Sago Culture of Japan (presently the Society of Sago Palm Studies). Being in the army in the WWII he had seen the human misery at suct time, thus Nagato realised sago could be the solution to the possible human and fuel hunger crisis of the 21st century..... to be continued In Shaa Allah

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