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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

THE SAGO YOU GROW YOU DON'T EAT


Young plantings of sago (foreground) and older palms in the background. It takes 10-12 years after planting before the sago trunks are harvested. They can be felled down using chain saws nowadays whereas using axes previously.



Sarawak has the largest peatland area in Malaysia. Sago thrives on such water-logged marginal soil where no other crop can grow.

The felled trunk is cut into 30inch logs (about 10 logs/trunk can be obtained), tied together to be floated and towed along waterways (drains, streams, rivers) to the factories for processing. Logs floating on a stream in front of a Melanau house, Mukah.

Where waterways are not available, the logs are transported via land to the factories. The logs are loaded into lorries equipped with cranes. 

Sago factories are strategically located along riverbanks for ease of landing of sago logs. Also, much water is required in the processing into sago flour.

At the factory, the sago bark is removed manually using a heavy parang but now more commonly done by rasping machine that grinds the outer layer of the hard bark.

Conveyor belt sending debarked logs into the splitting machine.

Sago flour is the final product from the factories. The flour is mainly for export for it is in short supply. Sadly, it is a fading industrial crop in Malaysia. Japanese scientists are the ones very enthusiastic and receive some funding to commercialise the  sago.

SAVE published this book in 2005.

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