REFRAMING INDIGENOUS FARMING IN THE AGE OF NEOLIBERAL AGRARIAN CHANGE: LESSONS FROM SABAH, MALAYSIA

Authors

  • MAINE SUADIK Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  • KRISHNA K. SHRESTHA Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Keywords:

neoliberal agricultural policy, indigenous farmer, agricultural practices, modernisation, marketisation, social mobility

Abstract

ABSTRACT This paper discusses the influence of neoliberal agricultural policy on the changes in agricultural practices amongst the indigenous farmers in Kota Belud, Sabah, Malaysia. As the main rice-producing area in Sabah, the agriculture sector in Kota Belud is significantly changing. However, why such changes have occurred and what do these changes mean to the practices of indigenous farmers are largely unknown. Based on semi-structured and in-depth interviews with farmers and local leaders in Kampung Piasau, Kota Belud, this paper demonstrates the main factors identified as having the greatest impact on the agricultural sector in Kota Belud. The influence of privatisation and free-market economy has brought about modernisation in the farming sector, leading to the erosion of collective values and social capital that farmers have long practised. This influence also has promoted the notion of neoliberal policies that 'modern' society and agriculture are more rational than indigenous agricultural practices, a rationale that is built around 'western' logic rather than tradition. However, research findings do not fully support this notion as some informants expressed strong confidence towards the need to revitalise traditional farming practices in paddy cultivation activities, although many of them are no longer practised. Overall, the influence of neoliberal agricultural policy has brought significant changes to the farming community in Kota Belud. Some are desired, and some are less desired changes, but all affect the process and purpose of agrarian change.

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Interviews:

Interview with Bimbah Hula, on 18 September 2019, at Kampung Piasau, Kota Belud, Sabah.

Interview with Diki Bindih, on 16 September 2019, at Kampung Piasau, Kota Belud, Sabah.

Interview with Gita Pangsi, on 16 September 2019, at Kampung Piasau, Kota Belud, Sabah.

Interview with Manag Muing, on 15 September 2019, at Kampung Piasau, Kota Belud, Sabah.

Interview with Minoh Daha, on 17 September 2019, at Kampung Piasau, Kota Belud, Sabah.

Interview with Nong Guna, on 18 September 2019, at Kampung Piasau, Kota Belud, Sabah.

Interview with Nora Singang, on 17 September 2019, at Kampung Piasau, Kota Belud, Sabah.

Interview with Sindih Alun, on 15 September 2019, at Kampung Piasau, Kota Belud, Sabah.

Published

2020-12-23

How to Cite

SUADIK, M., & K. SHRESTHA, K. (2020). REFRAMING INDIGENOUS FARMING IN THE AGE OF NEOLIBERAL AGRARIAN CHANGE: LESSONS FROM SABAH, MALAYSIA. Jurnal Kinabalu, 51. Retrieved from https://jurcon.ums.edu.my/ojums/index.php/ejk/article/view/2760