NTFP-EP campaigning strongly for Wise Foodways during the pandemic

The pandemic may be spreading, but the efforts to educate and promote Wise Foodways (local, healthy, fair and sustainable food) must continue. The Non-Timber Forest Products – Exchange Program Indonesia (NTFP-EP Indonesia), one of Hivos’ partners for the Sustainable Diets for All (SD4All) program, had been actively lobbying the Government of Kapuas Hulu district, West Kalimantan province, when Covid-19 began. Staying motivated, NTFP-EP immediately put forth another strategy: a Wise Foodways campaign through social media.

With Hivos’ support, NTFP-EP soon collaborated with various stakeholders, garnering strength for an even greater public awareness of Wise Foodways (https://panganbijak.org/). NTFP-EP collaborated with Generasi Baru Dapur Indonesia or the New Generation of Indonesian Cooking (NGIC), involving ten trainer chefs, including Chefs Henry Alexie Bloem, Handry Wahyu Sumanto, and Chandra Yudaswara.

NGIC educated the public about Wise Foodways through social media posts. One of NGIC’s campaigns explains that sago is a type of carbohydrate with a lower glycemic index compared to rice and wheat, and is gluten free and high in fiber. Therefore, sago is a filling and healthy food. The sago product that is packaged in a neat and attractive design was shared on NGIC’s Instagram account @genbarudapur.id on July 2020. Other posts shared stories of the Flores sorghum (a traditional staple food of communities in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara) which is nutritionally complete, and is rich in fiber and antioxidants. The hashtags #panganbijak (wise foodways), #panganlokal (local foods), and #pangansehat (healthy foods) were always included.

NTFP-EP Indonesia also collaborated with influencers, bloggers, and a radio station in Jakarta (I-Radio FM). Meanwhile, along with a local community group in Kapuas Hulu called the Putussibau Art Community, NTFP-EP held a competition inviting the public to post photos and videos promoting local foods from Kapuas Hulu. This was reposted numerous times by one local community Instagram account which helped the campaign reach a broader audience. Other collaborations were the creation of a jingle and local food video for Kapuas Hulu District.

With thousands of followers, the chefs played a strategic role in forming opinions, urging and influencing people to participate in this Wise Foodways movement. Their work accelerated the adoption of Wise Foodways practices by many people, including the government, media, and food industry actors in Indonesia.

These chefs also held a number of trainings on how to process local foods in the Local Foods Processing training series held from 16 to 22 May 2020. Training participants were grouped into categories including catering service providers, restaurant and café owners, street food vendors, canteen/food court business owners, and micro, small, and medium enterprises. They held five trainings in that one week, one of which can be accessed here: “Online NGIC Training”.

During the trainings, the chefs created menus based on some local foods: Tohor River sago, Baruk Sangihe sago, Flores sorghum, Bayang Bungo Indah nutmeg syrup from West Sumatra, Nyiur Terpadu virgin coconut oil from Indragiri Hilir in Riau, “Penja” Duo anchovies from Central Sulawesi, Adan Krayan black rice from East Kalimantan, forest honey from South East Sulawesi, and dried bamboo shoots from West Kalimantan.

The work of these chefs were the results of the master trainer capacity building held by Hivos through NGIC, which was implemented from July to early December 2019.

“In mid-December 2019, Hivos linked us with NGIC for a collaboration,” said Merry Tobing, Enterprise Development Officer from NTFP-EP Indonesia. “On 28 April 2020, we started to communicate with NGIC, which led to the signing of a cooperation agreement on an online Wise Foodways education and campaign on 8 May 2020.” Throughout May 2020, NTFP-EP provided local food ingredients for the chefs to cook with during the online Wise Foodways training.

Heroines of the Wise Foodways campaign

The Wise Foodways campaign was also done at the individual level by Theresia Eko Setyowati and Martha Kavung. They are two of many women and local foods activists who promote healthy food enthusiastically through their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Theresia and Martha responded to NTFP-EP Indonesia’s challenge by posting photos and videos on local foods. From May to June 2020, Theresia uploaded 17 posts to her Instagram account (@setyowati5614) while Martha uploaded 12 posts to her account @martha_kavung, using hashtags like #panganbijak (wise foodways), #panganlokal (local foods), #pangansehat (healthy foods), #panganadil (fair foods), and #panganlestari (sustainable foods). They shared information on menus based on local foods, ways to cook local foods, and benefits of these local foods.

“I’m proud to eat the foods that I’ve planted myself. They’re healthy and contribute to the family economy,” Martha explained. She spoke of her children planting Chinese cabbage, water spinach, and green beans in the family garden.

“By posting photos and videos on local foods, I want to urge the community to return to local foods,” Martha added. She once posted a video on how to process bulung, a traditional food from cassava from the Dayak Bahau tribe. “People watching the video became interested in eating, even making bulung,” she noted.

Theresia believed that NTFP-EP’s photo and video challenge was an interesting campaign that motivated people to get to know and love long-forgotten local food ingredients. “During the pandemic, exploring local food sources is a great strategy to strengthen food resilience,” Theresia said.

In August 2020, during Indonesia’s Independence Day celebrations, Theresia Eko held a cooking competition using non-rice, non-wheat ingredients and healthy beverages, along with the Seger Waras Jamu (herbal drink) Womens group. This activity also used the hashtags #panganbijak (wise foodways), #panganlokal (local foods), #pangansehat (healthy foods), #panganadil (fair foods), and #panganlestari (sustainable foods). This opportunity was also used to introduce sago noodles. The competition prizes included Wise Foodways t-shirts and bamboo fiber masks with the #panganbijak (wise foodways) hashtag.

The photo and video upload challenge became an education tool on local foods for 3,500 followers on NTFP-EP Indonesia’s Instagram account (@ntfpepindonesia) as well as its partners such as the accounts @parara.id, @panenrayanusantara, and @putussibau.artcommunity. NTFP-EP also gained much information on local foods of which it was previously unaware. As a result, the outcomes of this campaign will be prepared into an advocacy and collaboration package for the Kapuas Hulu District Government, which was temporarily postponed due to the pandemic.

The national Wise Foodways campaign is expected to increase the local community’s knowledge and awareness on principles of local, healthy, fair, and sustainable foods. Campaign activities are done to encourage the community to adopt sustainable consumption, production, and distribution practices, so that the healthy and nutritious foods available will be sufficient for today’s community and the following generations.