Module 4.1: Introduction
Instructional goal: After completing module 4.1, students should be able to
explain the importance of sago in Indonesian diet, sago potency in
Indonesia, different varieties of sago grown in different region of the
country and their specific properties and use, and Indonesian perspective on
sago and sago products.
Sago palm is one of the most important indigenous staple food resources in Indonesia
especially in east region. At this time, issue about indigenous carbohydrate sources
becomes popular due to unbalance increasing of food consumption and food
production. Sago can be used as food diversification that can provide diverse food
product choice. So, people not only depend on to one kind of staple food but can
elect many kind of staple food for daily consumption.
Until now, most Indonesian people eat rice as staple food. Food diversification from
sago can reduce our dependency to rice. Therefore it can help us to carry out from
food crisis.
Indonesian people recognize sago as starch from all starch resources. They call starch
from cassava, corn, arrow root, etc. as sago.
The true sago resources come from
palm family (Arecaceae), subfamily Calamoideae, and genus Metroxylon (Flach,
1997, McClatchey et al.,2006). Its natural habitat is in tropical lowland forest and
This palm is founded from 17oS to 15 – 16oN latitude ranging from
Thailand, peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia to Micronesia, Fiji and Samoa
(McClatchey et al.,2006).
Sago plantation in the world is concentrated in developing country like Papua New
Guinea, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia. Indonesia has a biggest sago
plantation in the world.
Around 1.4 millions ha from 2.5 millions ha world
plantation (Table 4.1.1) is in Indonesia. Most of Indonesia sago plantation is in wild
stand (sago forest) and only a little plantation is in semi cultivated stands. Therefore,
sago is the most potential natural resource which is given to Indonesian people.
In Indonesia, sago plantation is not evenly distributed. Papua is the most potential
sago producer in Indonesia, even in the world. There are around 60 variety of sago
from diverse species in Papua. Therefore, Papua become the center of sago genetic
diversity in the world which should be protected from the extinction. Sago
exploration should be managed to keep the plantation sustainable.
Table 4.1.1. Rough Estimation of sago plantation in the world*
Papua New Guinea
Mentawei Island
*Flach (1997)
Wild Stands (ha)
1 000 000
1 250 000
1 200 000
50 000
2 250 000
Semi-cultivated stands (ha)
20 000
148 000
14 000
10 000
30 000
20 000
30 000
10 000
10 000
45 000
3 000
3 000
5 000
224 000
Variety of sago palm can be recognized from its morphology as spine occurrence,
diameter of bole, height of trunk, leaf sheaths, petioles, and ranchis. Generally, sago
palm founded in Indonesia can be divided in two groups: spiny palm (i.e. M. rumphi
and M. sylvestre) and spineless palms (Metroxylon sago). Sago from different variety
has different productivity and starch characteristic. M. sago has higher productivity
than other Metroxylon species. Productivity of M. sago can reach 15-25 ton starch/ha
in good condition (Flach, 1997).
Indonesian people usually use the local name for sago plant exist. Papua people
recognize at least 10 spiny palm, which name are Para Huphon, Para Hongsay,
Rondo (Figure 4.1.1A), Munggin, Puy, Manno, Epesum, Ruruna, and Yakhalope.
Yepha Hongsay, Yepha Hongleu (Figure 4.1.1B), Yepha Ebung, Osokulu, Folio,
Panne, Wani, Ninggih, Yukulam, Hapholo, Yakhe Hili, Fikhela, Hanumbo are
spineless palms sago variety that commonly used by Papua people. Some of these
sago varieties have high productivity (above 3.5 ton sago flour/ha/year). Productivity
of Yepha Hongsay, Yepha Hungleu, Hapholo Hungleu, Para, Hapholo Hongsay, and
Osokulu Hongleu can reach 7.6, 7,9, 8, 8.3, 8.4, and 9.8 ton/ha/year respectively.
Similar to sago from Papua, sago from Moluccas have diverse variety with local
name Tuni, Ihur, Molat, Sika, Yafa, Kuweso, Sirigi, Seho ma tano, Roku ma amo,
Roku ma amo posu and Bobarai. That sago variety can be recognized from their
degree of spininess, thickness of leaflets, width of leaflets and length of leaflets.
Figure 4.1.1. Spiny (A) and spineless (B) sago palm in Papua
Sago plantation also can be found in other Indonesian region. Borneo, Sulawesi,
Sumatera (Riau and Bengkulu), Mentawai, West Java (Bogor City) have wide area of
sago plantation. In Borneo (Kalimantan), sago plantation can be found beside the
river flow (Figure 4.1.2) or at the swamp. At Kalimantan, sago application as a raw
material for staple food is limited by a culture. Like others peoples in Indonesia,
peoples at Kalimantan use rice as staple food.
Either Papua People or Moluccas people use that palm as a staple food resources for
a long time ago as a habitually heritage. Information about highly carbohydrate
content in trunk of sago palm is local knowledge that transferred from early
generation to the next generation. They prepare sago as traditional food like
papeda, sagu lempeng, sinoli, kapurung, etc. Unfortunately, sago consumption
decrease time by time because of consumption alteration. Consumption of food from
sago based material in Papua, Moluccas and other Indonesia region need to be
increased by using some effort i.e. quality improvement of existing sago based food
product, new food product development from sago based material and socialization
of sago base food. For that reason, this module will give explanation
physicochemical characteristic and functional properties of sago: research based
findings, introduction to traditional sago-based food product, and modern sago starch
Figure 4.1.2. M. Sagu plantation in South Borneo
Flach M. 1997. “Sago Palm: Metroxylon Sagu Rottb”. Institut of Plant Genetics and
Crops Plant Research (Gatersleben) and International Plant Genetic
Resources Institut (Rome, Italy). pdf/
McClatchey W, Manner HI, and Elevitch CR. 2006. “Metroxylon amicarum, M.
paulcoxii, M. sagu, M. salomonense, M. vitiense, and M. warburgii (sago
Limbongan J. 2007. Morfologi Beberapa Jenis Sagu Potensial di Papua. Jurnal
Litbang Pertanian, 26 (1), 2007: 16-24.