Findings of an Upland Rice Farming Study Using a Participatory Mapping Approach in Sarawak (Malaysia)
Alexander Hollaus1, Garen Jengan2, Rainer Weisshaidinger1
1Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Austria
Cultivation of rice plays an important role in food security and nutrition in the life of the Eastern Penan, a former hunter-gatherer society in Borneo (Sarawak, Malaysia). The main farming practice is upland rice cultivation by the means of slashing and burning in a shifting cultivation system. However, a shortening of fallow periods, caused by population growth, and the intensive land use led to a decline in the forest ecosystem functionality and soil quality, which in turn affected the rice yield. Therefore, sustainable hill rice production is essential to maintaining natural resources and mid- to long-term food security for the locals. To give recommendations for sustainable hill farming practices, a preliminary study in the Penan village of Long Lamai (Upper Baram watershed) was conducted. With a population of roughly 600 the village relies on rice farming for subsistence. A participatory research approach was chosen, in which local community members were part of the research team. 183 structured interviews and participatory mapping were conducted to assess key variables of hill rice cultivation, including: production methods, soil aspects, rice varieties, yields and weather conditions during cropping. Spatial references were drawn on aerial images and in a later stage digitised with a GIS program.
Keywords: Food security, participatory mapping, shifting cultivation, upland rice
Contact Address: Alexander Hollaus, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Doblhoffgasse 7/10, 1010 Vienna, Austria, e-mail: alexander.hollausfibl.org