The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (LHK) issued village forest management permits for seven villages, on 27 November 2017. The impact was felt for the community. They can also legally manage forest areas such as in the Meranti Islands.
Silence on the edge of the forest in Sungai Tohor Village was broken by the sound of a diesel engine driving the sago processing plant. From morning to evening, 14 sago processing plants continued to operate processing sago tales into wet sago. Not only sold in Riau and Java Island, the wet sago of the residents of Sungai Tohor Village is also often exported to neighboring countries, Malaysia.
Yes, the business of villagers in Tebing Tinggi Timur Subdistrict, Meranti Islands, is getting more excited about the issuance of permits by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Since then, the economy of the community, especially the residents of Sungai Tohor Village, has continued to improve. One of the residents of Sungai Tohor, Syahruddin, really felt the impact of this village forest management. Since the village forest scheme began, the yield of sago from the land he manages has continued to increase.
“Back then, when there was still logging and canal digging, sago palms could only grow to a maximum height of 5 to 8 meters. Now, sago can grow to 12 meters. There are even more. The results of the wet sago production are certainly far different, ”he said excitedly.
For Syahruddin, cultivating sago land is very profitable. Because, only by planting one sago tree, pohonsago saplings can grow mushroom in a few years. Even within 10 years, explained Syahruddin, dozens of sago palms can grow in one clump. "So if we plant sago trees once, our children and grandchildren will never run out, even though it is harvested every year. Like we are planting banana trees, ”said Syahruddin.
As a result, by managing the sago land inherited by his parents, Syaruddin can not only fulfill his daily needs, but also pay for his children's education up to university level. Even Syahruddin joked, many residents of Sungai Tohor are able to perform the haj pilgrimage with an income managing sago.
“One harvest with a yield of about 200 sago palms, I can get IDR 70-80 million. This result continues to increase. Especially after the village forest scheme existed. Another impact is that the community is calmer when managing the land because they do not need to be afraid that the managed land is in forest areas, "he added.
The village secretary for Sungai Tohor, Hernandi Jamal, said that the sago land they are currently managing has been hereditary land. It used to be run by their parents. For land legality, their parents only have a village certificate. However, the letter issued by the village stakeholders failed when the Ministry of Forestry issued an Industrial Plantation Forest (HTI) permit for PT Lestari Unggul Makmur in 2007.
"After the village forest scheme is now in place, land that was previously managed by the community can still be managed. Meanwhile, those who do not own land are still involved in managing village forests that have not previously been managed by the community, ”he explained.
Hernardi explained, with so many sago refineries, wet sago produced every month could reach 400 tons. With that much production, they estimate the turnover of money can reach Rp1 billion. Consumers who buy wet sago from Sungai Tohor are mostly from Cirebon, West Java and also from Malaysia.
The selling price for wet sago is currently in the range of IDR 1,700 per kilogram. "The area of sago plantations in Sungai Tohor Village is around 6 thousand ha. If it is totaled throughout Tebing Tinggi Timur Subdistrict, the area of sago plantations reaches 36 thousand ha," he added.
According to the community leader of Sungai Tohor Village, Nong Mel, the sago plants around Sungai Tohor Village have existed since the Dutch colonial era or around 1920. Sago was planted by the ancestors of the Sungai Tohor community. However, at that time the amount planted was still small. It was only in the 1980s that Nong Mel invited the community to cultivate sago plants. Sago planting is intensively carried out because people have difficulty meeting their daily needs, so they have to open fields on other islands.
"Because many people are farming until they leave the village, the village is deserted. Even the Friday prayer congregation alone is only 10 people. Then the children find it difficult to go to school. Because of that, I invited the people to return to the village and plant sago. After the sago began to produce, slowly the people's economy began to change, ”said Nong Mel, telling of his previous work.
With the economic condition of the community that continues to improve, the community does not immediately clear the forest around the village. Because the community believes, quality sago plants can grow on peatlands whose conditions are maintained. Wet peat litter and growing forest plants.
“Sago in the Tohor River grows on peat land and is adjacent to other forest plants. So the community will continue to protect the forest so that their sago plants are good. In addition, even though from the center of the land the distance is quite far to the river bank up to 2-3 kilometers to carry sago stalks. The community will not build canals, because people are aware that if a canal is made, peatlands will dry out and this will affect their sago palms, "he said.
Nong Mel explained, the flourishing of sago plants is a sign that the peatlands in the forest are maintained. This is because sago plants really need water to thrive and produce the best quality sago. "The public understand very well about that. So that apart from planting sago, the community will also protect the environment, ”he said.
Previously, the Governor of Riau, Arsyadjuliandi Rachman, who had been resigned as of September 20, at the Annual ASEAN Sago Symposiun at Hotel Pangeran Pekanbaru in early August said that there were many sago plantations in the Meranti Islands with an area of up to 11,700 ha owned by the company and 60,562 ha owned by the company. people. With tens of thousands of hectares of existing sago land, Riau was able to produce 300,755 tons of sago flour in 2017.
The community does not immediately clear the forest around the village. Because the community believes, quality sago plants can grow on peatlands whose conditions are maintained.
Meanwhile, according to data from the Riau Province Research and Development Agency (Balitbang), sago with all its advantages has very good competitiveness. For consumer health, for example, the value of carbohydrate sago can produce energy equivalent to that of people who consume rice. But in terms of production, one hectare of sago land is capable of producing 20–40 tons of starch, in contrast to the average rice production of only 7 tons per ha of land.
Riau Provincial Balitbang also calculated that one sago stick can meet the consumption needs of one adult for one year. "Considering the importance of diversifying the specialties of this region, various efforts have been made by Riau Province. Such as preparing regulations starting from the Food Security Regional Regulation, Governor Regulation, and Governor's Circular for local food development, especially sago-based in hotels and restaurants, "he said.
Arsyadjuliandi said that the Provincial Government is also aggressively implementing a number of programs. For example changes in behavior and strengthening of local food groups in the Food Security Service, innovation of sago derivatives at the Research and Development Agency, expansion of the area at the Agriculture and Plantation Service, Strengthening SMEs at the Trade and Promotion Office at the Riau Province Tourism Office.
"To make sago a strategic food reserve in the context of product diversification and publication of food diversity, various efforts have been made by Riau Province, among others; exploiting the diversity of types of dishes made from sago, so that the 2016 MURI record for 369 types. Currently, the Riau provincial government is also collaborating with the Trisakti Tourism College and Hotel Pangeran Pekanbaru, in serving sago-based star hotel standard food, "he said.
But in Meranti, the residents of Sungai Tohor are looking for a way so that they don't just produce wet sago. In the future, they are trying to produce sago in dry form and various derivative products. It is hoped that the community's ability to produce sago starch and its derivatives can boost the economy of the residents of Sungai Tohor Village.
This article was published on Riau Pos and re-edited to be loaded on Jaring.id