Sunday, June 15, 2008

Palm Sugar Industry in Rambunan Village, Sonder Minahasa

by Charles Roring


Rambunan is famous for its palm sugar production. The village can be reach by one and a half hours ride from Manado, the capital city of the province North Sulawesi.


Rambunan is around one and a half hours drive from Manado. It is under the administration of Sonder sub-regency. This village is famous for its palm sugar production. The palm sugar that the villagers produce is of very high quality. It can be considered as an organic farming produce. Farmers in Rambunan do not use chemicals both in the plants and the production process of palm sugar.


In Minahasa, palm sugar is called gula batu (stone sugar) or gula merah (red sugar) whereas many other parts in Indonesia call it gula Aren.


One or two kilometers before entering the village, we will see rows of Saguer trees. From these trees, farmers tap the sap out of palm blossoms. The sap has to be sweet. Usually it is collected in a bamboo tube. To make it sweet, farmers wash the tube until it is clean, free from the previous sap. If it is not washed, its tastes will be sour and contained alcohol. Minahasan like to drink it as palm wine.


Palm sugar is one of the ingredients in many of Minahasan food and cookies, for instance, dodol. Its color is like chocolate. It is made of glutinous rice, coconut milk and palm sugar. People like to eat it because it is healthy and delicious.


The palm sugar home industry in Rambunan has been run by the villagers for generations. Now their number is getting fewer. Youth in Rambunan village prefers to find other jobs leaving their village for big cities in Indonesia or even abroad