MaxFM, Waingapu – Suffering from a locust crisis for years, the residents of Sumba Timur have finally perceived the challenge as a blessing in disguise.
The locust, locally known as belalang Kembara, has been an ongoing problem for local farmers in Sumba Timur because they kept losing their harvests to Kembara’s invasions. However, it is the time for foes to become friends as the locusts are now considered a new source of protein.
The initial attempt to introduce Kembara locust as consumable was done at MaxFM, a local radio station. Located on its front porch, Radio MaxFm hosted a program of “Belalang Jadi Berkah” (locusts are blessings) via Zoom. Broadcasted live, the event was guided by Suparjiyem, the owner of Suparjiyem Restaurant located at Rest Area Paliyan Gunung Kidul, D.I Yogyakarta.
During the program, Suparjiyem said that usually, locusts are sold for IDR85,000/ kilograms at the local market in Gunung Kidul. However, before the program that morning, she bought it for IDR120,000/ kilograms.
Suparjiyem said that preparing locusts into a delicious cuisine is not complicated because of its easy handling and processing. She further instructed that during preparation, there are two simple steps to clean the locusts. First, remove the internal parts of the locusts; and second, wash the locusts thoroughly.
As for the seasonings, Suparjiyem said that she uses similar bumbu (Indonesian term for spices and herbs used in cooking), to everyday dishes such as shallots, garlic, coriander, bay leaves, lemon grasses, lime leaves, chili, cayenne peppers (adjust to your taste), some flavorings, a little sugar. Grind all the bumbu until they form a paste. For this step, you can use the traditional way of using a mortar and pestle, or you may choose a food processor. Put the locusts into the paste and let them sit for several minutes before deep-frying.
The event, which was also a cooking tutorial, presented two menus. They were Kembara Goreng Kering (Deep Fried Kembara) and Sambal Goreng Kembara.
Also attended the event, the head of the agricultural office of Sumba Timur, Oktavianus Mbaku Muku, expressed his gratitude to those who supported the program. He said that the program shall inspire others because it provided an alternative to solve the locust problem.
“Today, let me tell all of you. Kembara is not only consumable but it is also delicious! It tasted like shrimp. I have tried it with Professor Hermanu of IPB.”
Oktavianus further said that Kembara shall no longer be a menacing creature anymore. The cooking tutorial and demonstration at the event showed that the locusts are an excellent source of protein that can be used as ingredients for other culinary.
The chief of the Tani Center of Bogor Agricultural University (IPB), Professor Hermanu Triwidodo said that the continual locust invasions in Sumba have concerned him and his colleagues at IPB. He and his colleagues are aware that the outbreaks have suffered the people. Therefore, IPB visited Sumba to offer alternatives to the problem.
He expects that through the program “Belalang Jadi Berkah”, which was broadcasted live on radio and spread online on social media, people in Sumba may consider Kembara as a blessing.
“It is tasty”, Prof. Triwidodo added when he was asked about the menu.
Further, Prof. Triwidodo said that there are researchers from IPB and the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture visiting Sumba to collect data and detailed information about the Kembara locust. The data will be used as the primary source for the following steps.
He also thanked the “Program IPB Quick Response LPPM IPB dan Direktorat Perlindungan Tanaman Pangan Kementan” and those who have supported the program of “Gerakan 1Kg Beras untuk 2Kg Belalang”.
Meanwhile, residents who live near radio MaxFM had also partaken of the newly introduced dish of Kembara. Wili and Wulan, students of a neighboring elementary school, mentioned that they wished to have a second helping. They said that the locust tasted good. [HD]
[Translator : Itha Priyastiti]