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
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