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Sorghum, Mama Agatha, and Kemarau in Likotuden

  • Date:
    25 Feb 2021
  • Author:
    KEHATI

“Sorghum is an answer for our village in overcoming famine in the dry season.” Agatha Kola, or more familiarly called Mama Agatha, a farmer member of the Sorgum Cooperative in Likotuden Hamlet, Kawalelo Village, Demon Pagong District, East Flores Regency – I remember telling me one day. Likotuden – a hamlet on the eastern tip of the island of Flores.

Usually, the dry season is a frightening specter in Likotuden. Food shortages always occur. The source of carbohydrates, rice that has been supplied by the government – has never been sufficient.

 

“At that time, the farmers’ land could not be planted with anything. Dry, arid and hard to water, ”said Mama Agatha, remembering the hard times during the dry season in Likotuden. He sighed. Wiping the sweat dripping down his forehead. He seemed grateful – that Likotuden’s gray portrait was fading away. The hamlet that was once synonymous with arid and food insecure has now changed. Likotuden, is one of the sorghum center villages.

 

Since 2013, this brown-skinned woman has been one of the pioneers of planting sorghum in her village with Maria Loretha, a woman who is often called Mama Sorgum. Maria Loretha is a companion of the Economic and Social Development Foundation, Larantuka. This foundation collaborates with the KEHATI Foundation to develop a program to use community-based local food sources towards food sovereignty and climate change adaptation efforts in accordance with local wisdom and traditions in East Flores, the Lamaholot Tribe and Flores Island in general. “The strength of sorghum is extraordinary in Likotuden. Rice dies, maize dies, but sorghum remains green and lush in Lycotuden, where an earthen stone is located. This plant is very strong even though it lacks water, ”said Maria Loretha.

 

Tracing the origins of sorghum traces in the archipelago is relatively minimal due to the limited historical sources available. The record of sorghum on Flores is even more limited. Sorghum with the Latin name Shorgum bicolor (L) Moench, is thought to have originated from Africa which then spread to various continents including Asia. From various literatures, Ahmad Arif, in his book entitled Sorghum: Ancestral Seeds for the Future, tries to trace back the journey of sorghum to the archipelago. Some information states, sorghum only entered Indonesia by the Dutch colonialists in 1925 and began to develop in the 1940s. However, it is likely that sorghum entered Indonesia long before.

 

Jejak kultural sorgum di NTT, khususnya di Flores, menunjukkan bahwa tanaman ini sudah lama menjadi bagian masyarakat sehingga tidak mungkin sorgum baru masuk ke Indonesia pada tahun 1900-an. Keberadaan sorgum yang tiba jauh lebih awal ini juga dikuatkan dengan kesaksian botanis Jerman yang bekerja untuk Dutch East India Company atau (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie/VOC), Georg Eberhard Rumphius yang tinggal dan meneliti keragaman hayati di Ambon sejak 1654. Dalam catatan yang kemudian dibukukan, Rumphius (1747:195) menyebutkan, “Sorgum telah tumbuh di mana-mana di Indies (Nusantara),” namun pada umumnya hanya ditanam di pinggir ladang.

 

Di buku itu diceritakan juga tentang beberapa bukti sejarah yang ada juga menunjukkan bahwa tradisi bertani di Nusantara, terutama dalam hal ini di Pulau Jawa, sudah berlangsung lama dan salah satu tanaman yang dibudidayakan di pulau ini adalah sorgum yang dalam istilah lokal disebut cantel. Beberapa peneliti bahkan menyebutkan, cantel atau sorgum ini sudah tertera dalam relief di Candi Borobudur Jawa Tengah. Dalam buku: Inscriptions Reliefs mainly on Borobudur and Prambanan Translation of Indian Ramayana by Bhatti into Old Javanese disebutkan, bahwa sorgum merupakan salah satu jenis makanan yang ada dalam relief candi dari abad ke-8 ini, selain tanaman padi. Hal ini diperkuat dalam kronik China Chu-fanchi, sebuah rekaman tentang negeri asing dari abad ke-12-13 M yang ditulis Chau-Jou-Kua disebutkan bahwa Sho-po (Jawa) adalah tempat yang cocok untuk menyelenggarakan pertanian, hasilnya antara lain: padi, serat-rami, millet, dan kacang-kacangan (Hirth & Rochhill, 1911: 77).

 

Bambang Budi Utomo (2013) dari Pusat Penilitian Arkeologi Nasonal menafsirkan millet itu sebagai cantel atau sorgum, walaupun mungkin saja yang dimaksud adalah jewawut. Dalam sejumlah referensi lama, antara sorgum dan jewawut memang sering tertukar. Telah lamanya keberadaan sorgum di Indonesia juga bisa dilacak dari penamaan tanaman ini dalam berbagai bahasa lokal. Menurut pemetaan Blench (2014), sebaran bahasa lokal sorgum bisa ditemukan di sekitar Sumatera, Jawa, Bali, Nusa Tenggara Barat dan Nusa Tenggara Timur, Sulawesi, hingga Kepulauan Maluku. Di Jawa Tengah, tanaman sorgum dikenal sebagai cantel, di Jawa Barat sebagai gandrung, dan di kalangan Melayu, termasuk Bugis di Sulawesi dan Maluku dikenal sebagai batari.

 

Disebutkan diatas, Di NTT, nama sorgum dikenal dengan beragam sebutan, seperti Pena Mina, Jagung solor, mesak, Watablolo/Jagung Rote/jagung solor, Wataru hamu. Yang menarik – tradisi bercocok tanam mulai dari penanaman sampai panen sorgum tak lepas dari upacara yang dilakukan oleh tokoh adat. Masyarakat Lamaholot (Flores timur, adonara, Solor dan Alor) mengenal mitologi Ibu Pangan yaitu Jedo Pare Tonu Wujo . Anak dara yang rela dipenggal, kemudian darahnya yang jatuh ketanah berubah menjadi menjadi beragam benih sumber pangan untuk mengatasi kelaparan. Dalam narasi Tonu Wujo, jelas disebutkan tentang keberadaan sorgum yang telah menjadi tradisi bertani masyarakat Lamaholot.

 

The importance of the position of sorghum in Lamaholot can also be seen in the implementation of the rice harvest which begins with the ritual of harvesting sorghum first. Over time, this plant begins to disappear because it is not consumed by the community. Previously, sorghum was commonly planted intercropping and used as a source of food for the community. Along with these conditions, local cultural wisdom in the form of ceremonial rituals before planting to harvest which is a form of “appreciation” for food sources is increasingly lost.

 

Sorghum Field

East Flores, has become a pioneer area that revitalizes sorghum. Maria Loretha, is a figure who actively invites the community to re-develop “pearls”, the food source of Lamaholot which has almost disappeared. Starting from planting on his land in Adonara. With the support of the dioceses of Larantuka and Lembata through Yaspensel, sorghum crossed into the Likotuden village in Flores extending to Tanjung Bunga, Solor, Lembata.

 

Not only limited to East Flores and Lembata, sorghum development is moving westward from Maumere, Ende, Ngada, and Manggarai Raya to Sumba Island. Now, the prestige of sorghum has begun to lift. In fact, the local government of East Flores has made sorghum as a healthy food to overcome stunting with the Gempur Stunting movement with SOLOR (Sorghum Kelor). In terms of ecology, sorghum genetic resources are sustainable and become a source of income to improve the economy of farmer families. With the above description, sorghum can be a future choice, especially for eastern and dry land areas because it has been proven to be adaptive.

 

“We no longer need to be afraid of not having enough food, because we have spare sorghum to eat. In fact, my family continues to consume sorghum, so they don’t depend on rice, ”I still remember Mama Agatha’s words. An important word – considering that the pattern of food consumption, especially carbohydrates in Indonesian society, is not yet diverse. We know rice still dominates. Meanwhile, sago, cassava, tubers, sorghum and other cereals are still minimal as alternatives to carbohydrates.

 

Children from Likotuden and Sorghum hamlets

According to Mama Agatha, even from an economic point of view, residents now have income from 40 percent of the sales of the sorghum harvest. Agatha is active in voicing sorghum, from cultivation, post harvest, processing to promotion of sorghum food as additional food for toddlers to overcome stunting. Not only that, Likotuden has become known and visited by the public to study or have a tour of the sorghum garden. “They usually go around the sorghum garden, participate in processing sorghum, eat together, watch the weaving making. We get additional income, “said this posyandu cadre.

 

I think Mama Agatha and the Likotuden community – have given examples of how efforts to diversify food consumption are a must to strengthen the local community food system.

 

Author: Puji Sumedi, Agricultural Ecosystem Manager at KEHATI Foundation
This article has been published on borobudurwriters.id