Papua is rich for its natural resources and diverse culture. One of the traditions that have been handed down from generations to generations since the early days in Papua is chewing areca nut, betel rod and lime flour. These plants are natural traditional snacks to past the time while doing daily activities. These plants have such a unique taste which are loved by the locals. Thus, the Governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe has been very supportive to the Papuan women who sell these plants. The woman vendors who sell areca nut and betel rod have been donated the fund in the amount of one million rupiah per person.
Chewing Tradition in Papua
The tradition of chewing edible plants which contains medicinal benefits exist around world. The ingredients being used to chew differs widely in accordance with the available plants in the area. In Papua, areca nut and betel rod are two of the three main ingredients for the chewing tradition in Papua. The other ingredient is lime flour. The lime flour is made from shells and it gives the red color and warm sensation on the tongue.
The tradition of chewing areca nut and betel rod has been done from generations in Papua. Even their kids are taught since early age to chew. The Papuan people believe that it can help to strengthen their teeth, refresh their mouth, heals mouth diseases, stop the gum bleeding, and serves as a mouth wash.
When these ingredients are chewed together, it produces a very unique combination of tastes. It is the combination of sweet and sour, which gives a fresh sensation in the mouth. The areca nut would not pealed but chewed along with the skin. Besides the benefits for the teeth and mouth health, the waste is also categorized as organic waste and it is believed to be able to fertilize the land.
The Papuan Indigenous Women
Most of the merchants who sell these ingredients are the Papuan women. They sell these plants per package contain of the complete three ingredients of areca nut, betel rod and lime flour. Recently, fifty indigenous Papuan women from Biak Numfor regency have received business aid from the Governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe through the Regent of Biak, Thomas Ondy.
Quoted from Antarapapua, the regent of Biak Numfor, Thomas Ondy said “Please use this business aid to develop and increase the income”. He also said that the business aid is the prove of the government’s commitment to develop the economic activities of the Papuan indigenous people. The distribution of this aid has been implemented by Bank of Papua in the form of savings account. It is also facilitated by Kamar Adat Pengusaha Papua (KAPP) or the Papuan Indigenous Entrepreneur Union.