Brunei faces danger of running out of sago

  • Sago is the main ingredient of Brunei’s national dish ambuyat. BT file

Monday, March 17, 2014

THE owner of a sago-producing factory has warned that Brunei may run out of sago, the ingredient used to make Brunei’s national dish ambuyat due to declining rumbia trees.

Yong Ming Leong, who manages a sago factory in Tutong’s Kg Ukong, said the number of rumbia trees, from which sago is derived from, had been dwindling as a result of lack of planting.

Speaking to The Brunei Times on the sidelines of a recent visit to tourism destinations in Tutong, he said the production of sago requires more resources.

“It was unlike in the 1970s when you could find rumbia trees by the riverside of Kampung Ukong and boats were used to transport these trees,” he said.

“Now, you won’t be able to find one by the river. You have to use lorries and get the resources at the hillside of Kg Kiudang.

Yong said he had raised the issue of the shortage of rumbia trees to the authorities, but he has yet to hear from them.

“I am asking them (certain parties) to support us so that this industry does not end,” said the 49-year-old.

“I have voiced out this issue several times to Tutong Consultative Council, but still (no answer).”

In 2011, it was also reported that Yong had raised concerns over the lack of support in resolving the issue.

He had said the family-owned factory, which had been supplying the country with the main ingredient for its national dish for 39 years, was unable to complete about 20 orders from its customers in a month due to shortage of resources.

In addition, the owner said the process to cut rumbia trees requires permit and proper regulations need to be complied with.

“You have to get permission from the planter of the rumbia trees before you could cut them,” he said. “You cannot just cut them down,” he explained.

Yong said he was concerned with the decline of the sago processing industry if authorities fail tackle the issue soon

“What I’m doing here is for the development of Brunei Darussalam,” he reiterated. “We shouldn’t just talk like walking without a shadow. If this (sago factory) industry goes backwards, all (will be gone).”

Yong further said he would do his best to continue keeping the traditional food of Brunei alive and to ensure future generations would still be able to enjoy the national delicacy.

“Do not let the Bruneian traditional food die just like that.

“We should strive and continue to develop our traditional food and this can only be achieved through unity among Bruneians,” he added. - Ak Md Khairuddin Pg Harun

The Brunei Times

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