By: Sahrudin – @SahrudinSaja
WHEN it comes to talking about cassava-based foods, Magelang in Central Java is now not only known for its gethuk (sweet steamed loaf of pounded cassava) and cassava chips.
Dozens small businesses in Sidowangi Village, Kajoran Subdistrict, 20 kilometers southwest of Magelang, have been producing various dishes made from tubers of the plant scientifically known as Manihot esculenta Crantz.
They started creating nata de cassava, rissole, nastar, puthu (steamed cake with brown sugar inside), dodol (sweet glutinous cake) and dawet or cendol dessert drink and cassava icy cold fruit soups more than a year ago.
Residents obtained the culinary skills from students of Yogyakarta’s Ahmad Dahlan University, when they were undergoing their field placement program, Student Community Service, or locally known as Kuliah Kerja Nyata.
“We started almost from zero, and the students gave us something new,” Umi Qoniah, a Sidowangi resident said, adding that initially, Umi and other residents were not sure that they have heard the list of those cakes before or not.
What they knew at that time only how to make slondok (thick, U-shaped cassava crisps), geblek (fried cake made of cassava starch) and cassava chips.
“Then, together with them, we learned by trial and error, we learned from mistakes,” Umi affirmed.
However, she believed that willingness to learn would certainly bear fruit of success.
“We now produce about 500 kilograms nata de cassava permonth, more than 120 kilograms tapioca starch, 100 kilograms fried slondok and up to 20 tons raw slondok crackers,” she proudly explained.
Umi and her neighbours are also gradually increasing the amount of nata de cassava, nastar and other products, and expanding into new markets in and around Magelang.
Currently, selling price of cassava-based food products made by residents of the village is getting better.
“I think it is a positive impact of our product’s quality improvement. We have good response from consumers, and we always practice good food hygiene, and also more creative, more interesting packaging,” she added.
Umi also reminded that improvement of cassava processing and utilization techniques would also greatly increasing income and living standards of cassava farmers, as well as enhancing the shelf-life of products, and increasing marketing opportunities.
Furthermore, she hoped a wide variety of cassava-based products from Sidowangi Village can be exported directly or indirectly to one or more foreign countries someday…***[firstname.lastname@example.org]