Rice, crackers, sugar and orangutans
For the past two decades the Orangutan Foundation has worked closely with Yayorin, a small Indonesian organisation, who specialise in promoting sustainable agriculture and livelihoods and education to communities living in areas close to orangutan habitat
Last week, I returned from a month-long trip to Indonesian Borneo, where I spent time working in our Borneo office, visiting our various conservation programmes and also leading two tours groups. Seeing orangutans in the forest always brings home to me how important our work is and why orangutans deserve to be saved. One of the most rewarding aspects of my most recent trip though was spending time with a women’s group from the village of Tanjung Putri.
Tanjung Putri village is on the border of the Lamandau River Wildlife Reserve and the people living there are totally dependent on their surroundings for their livelihood and survival. In the past this has involved illegal logging, slash and burn agriculture and hunting inside the Reserve – actions which have a direct detrimental impact on the forest and wildlife.
With Yayorin’s guidance a women’s group have identified two potential ways to generate an income: the production of rice crackers “krukup” and making sugar, derived from nipa palm.
Rice crackers are a favourite snack in Southeast Asia as I found out for myself – they are absolutely delicious. The women make the crackers by hand and add ground shrimps, which are sourced from the villager’s fishermen, and the process involves them being sun-dried for one and a half days. These crackers, which are melt in your mouth, are then sold in the nearest town of Pangkalan Bun and some are even exported to Jakarta., where it is planned to market them as a “fairtrade” and a sustainable product.
The sugar is produced from the sap of the nipa palm’s leaves – this is a common palm found in the mangroves and in the village itself. The women have been taught how to harvest the palms sustainably, so that the removal of some leaves does not damage the plant. Once the sap has been drained out, the leaves can also be used for roofing or for weaving. The villagers use the sugar themselves thus saving them from having to buy expensive imported sugar from town.
The women were so inspired and proud of their work and were so grateful to us for the help given. But where do orangutans come into all this? For these villagers orangutans aren’t a factor in their daily decision-making. However, if we can help reduce reliance on damaging practices and encourage viable sustainable livelihoods, which reduces pressure on orangutan habitat, then that directly impact orangutans in a positive way.
Thank you Trekkers for taking on the Sumatra Challenge – you are helping us to make a difference!
For more information about the wonderful work of the Orangutan Foundation, please visit their website at http://www.orangutan.org.uk/.
For more information on our Sumatra Jungle Trek and to sponsor a trekker or the group in general in support of this work, please visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1006056&pageId=223146