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Sunsukung Village

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SUNSUKUNG VILLAGE

Do  you consider a meal of rice, a luxury ? No, it's a meal we
sometimes skip . We rather eat hamburger, Kenturky fried chicken or fried noodle. But to the people of Sunsukung, Marudu,  Sabah, it is, as they eat rice once a month.

Sunsukung ,situated 100 kilometer from town , is a small village
 in the middle of nowhere. It is inaccessible to the outside world, as it is so far from any main road. The people there, until recently,lived on the brink of primitive life,

They hunt wild animals such as deers, wild pigs, wild goats and
birds for food . The womenfolk gather wild leaves , fruits and berries from the near-by jungle. Fish are plentiful in the river . They plant root vegetables such as yam , sweet potato and tapioca which can satisfy their hunger. Maize and hill rice are also planted as subsistance food crops.

According to Andand, the village headman, the
 reason why they do not plant a lot of hill rice is because of the pests such as birds and rats that continously eat up heir food crop  despite their constant care. That  exhausts  their energy . That's why they rather plant less, which they can take good care of and not  waste  energy to feed the birds.

The peasants only plant rice during rainy season when the ground is
 wet. They usually get only a sack of rice from each harvest. They use this bag of rice  frugally to cook porridge .Young and old  enjoy this delicious meal once a month.

The village folks practise shifting cultivation . They clear the forest
 by burning it to the ground .The burnt soil is rich and black , thus no fertilizers is needed . They plant hill rice on this piece of ground. While waiting for the hill rice to grow , they grow secondary crops that can yield harvest very fast such as vegetables . This crop also act as a cover crop for the hill rice.After the field is used several times and has lost its fertility , a new piece of ground has to be  cleared.Shifting cultivaton  causes  soil erosion .

Recently, the government helps the village folk by building new huts
 for them and providing  them with black and white televisions. Thus they can see the outside world through TV Channel one and channel two .

 

Agatha Lai 2002

 

 

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