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Story Publication logo October 11, 2023

Inferiority of Local Food in NTT (bahasa Indonesia)

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The diversity of food sources and culture which is the foundation of a sustainable local food system...

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This story excerpt was translated from bahasa Indonesia. To read the original story in full, visit Kompas. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website. Our website is available in EnglishSpanishbahasa IndonesiaFrench, and Portuguese.

Pekerja mengangkut beras yang dikirim dari Larantuka di Pelabuhan Tobilota, Pulau Adonara, Flores Timur, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Rabu (9/8/2023). Satu karung beras seberat 50 kilogram  dijual Rp 575.000.
Workers transport rice sent from Larantuka at Tobilota Harbor, Adonara Island, East Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, on September 8, 2023. One sack of rice weighing 50 kilograms is sold for IDR 575,000. Image by Agus Susanto/Kompas. Indonesia.

If food becomes one of the markers of identity, we will find it difficult to find that identity in East Nusa Tenggara. Rice-biased food politics have made NTT residents inferior to their local food.

We were actually determined to consume only local food during our trip to document food diversity in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), as part of our coverage of food systems on small islands. However, we had to make do with rice that had to be imported from outside the island.

Stalls with Padang and Javanese dishes dominate the villages, which use white rice as their carbohydrate, in addition to meatball stalls with wheat noodles. During our two-week trip in NTT, we had difficulty finding food stalls that served local food prepared in the traditional way.

None of the hotels and inns in NTT served local menus. "Where is Manggarai's local food? I didn't find it while in Labuan Bajo. This morning, I looked for local food in the hotel and there was none," said Director of Food Consumption Diversity at the National Food Agency (Bapanas) Rinna Syawal, whom we met at a workshop in Labuan Bajo on Monday (14/8/2023).


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Rinna's concern is well-founded. The workshop, held at a star hotel, discussed the transformation of the food system in NTT, which among other things emphasized the importance of local food.

However, as is typical of other hotels there, no local menu was served, not even sweet potatoes, corn, or boiled bananas. In fact, NTT is rich with a variety of tubers, corn and bananas.

Dua perempuan menunggu masakan matang dalam pelatihan kewirausahaan pengembangan pangan lokal di Sekolah Agro Sorgum, Desa Pajinian, Kecamatan Adonara Barat, Kabupaten Flores Timur, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Selasa (8/8/2023).
Two women wait for the food to cook during local food development entrepreneurship training at the Sorghum Agro School, Pajinian Village, West Adonara District, East Flores Regency, East Nusa Tenggara, on August 8, 2023. Image by Agus Susanto/Kompas. Indonesia.
Bermacam biji-bijian dijual di Pasar Senja TPI Lewoleba, Pulau Lembata, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Kamis (10/8/2023). Pasar yang berada di pinggir pantai tersebut hanya buka mulai sore hari. Bermacam sayuran dan hasil laut melimpah dengan harga terjangkau tersedia di pasar tersebut.
Various grains are sold at the TPI Lewoleba Senja Market, Lembata Island, East Nusa Tenggara, on October 8, 2023. The market on the beach is only open from the afternoon. A variety of abundant vegetables and seafood at affordable prices are available there. Image by Agus Susanto/Kompas. Indonesia.

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