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Food, its Potential, and its Dilemma

While it’s true that I haven’t seen all of Raja Ampat, I’ve seen a glimpse of it in our village and what its people do for a living. In this article I would like to write about what they usually eat, how they get it, its potential, and its dilemma.

First, you have to know what they usually eat, how they eat it, and how they feel about it. To be honest, their usual diet is something we should be concerned about, besides the literacy and education. Some of them only want to eat rice without any side dish. Some of them only eat rice/sago with fish. Some are not used to eating vegetables. They usually eat with a big amount of rice and a small portion of side dish. The disturbing facts are: most people here don’t understand the importance of nutrition, so their parents do not have a problem with their children eating an unbalanced diet. Some of them are not doing it because they can’t afford to buy anything else, but because they like it that way or perhaps they’re unwilling to make the effort to go fishing in our rich food resource - the sea.

The other problem in the children’s diet is their average intake of sugar: it is too high, and sometimes they prefer to eat only sugary snacks instead of a proper meal. Actually, it’s a very common problem around the globe, and it lies in the understanding and the direction from the parents. Most of them do not understand and therefore do not really care about what their children are having for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Undoubtedly, more than half the people have nutrition issues and perhaps, this is affecting their ability to study. In the long term, perhaps hundreds of years from now, this could lead to a lower brain ability compared to other regions that have a healthier nutrition. But in the near future, it’s affecting the ability of children to comprehend the material of the education given to them, thus the effectiveness schooling in our village. My suspicion is, that it happens in almost every area in Raja Ampat.

To summarize the conditions, the potential for having a more balanced and healthy diet is actually there, but mostl people have a poor understanding of the need to eat healthy and therefore lack the initiative to make an effort. The impact of this issue either in the short term or long term could be worrisome.

How they eat is something I found entirely different than what I usually had in the capital. Almost every house I visited has neither table nor chair, they eat without using any of them, and they don’t have the exact time to eat either. But when the time is right and everyone is present, they eat together on the floor and talk with each other.

Now let’s shift the focus from their diet and their potential to have a balanced nutrition to their food industry and its dilemma.

For fishing, I am confident that they have a big potential to build a large industry and give employment to many unemployed people over here, as well as develop this area with the money earned. But if they do that, we know how much the fish industry will destroy the environment. Another option to benefit from the environment economically is to use the beauty of the diverse marine life in tourism, but it is still unclear when the pandemic will end, thus it’s also unclear when the people of Raja Ampat will get their income from tourism again.

As for animal husbandry, interestingly,