Jakarta — The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in collaboration with the Indonesian government has officiated the first integrated sago palm processing facility in Southeast Sulawesi as part of a food diversification program. It is also aimed at increasing food production to end hunger and malnutrition. Southeast Sulawesi was chosen the location for the program as it is the largest sago area in the country after Papua with more than 5,000 hectares of sago farms. For generations, people in Southeast Sulawesi have harvested and consumed sago from palms in the forests as a source of carbohydrate besides rice and corn. The project comprises three programs, namely developing a sago farm with an agro-economic approach, building an integrated hygienic and no-waste sago processing unit and creating an integrated business unit that manages sago farming, processing and marketing. The integrated plant was officially opened in Labela village, Besulutu subdistrict in Konawe district on Monday (18/12). “I hope the integrated sago processing center will lift sago to become a product on the global market and improve the wealth of Besulutu villagers and people of Konawe,” Konawe Food Security Agency head M. Akbar said. Meanwhile, Mark Smulders from the FAO urged all parties to support the sustainability of the sago industry. “Only through a collective effort by all stakeholders will this tremendous opportunity turn sago palm cultivation and processing into a viable rural industry of an important staple food native to eastern Indonesia,” he stated.