The month of May is always celebrated as the Harvest Festival by the local community of the Kadazan Dusun Murut in Sabah which witnessed the appreciation to the spirit of the staple food of the local people, padi and you can watch the local beauties paegent and the crowning of the 'queen' called the 'Unduk Ngadau'. The celebration culminates on May 30 and 31 every year. The festival is only celebrated in Sabah and Sarawak on the Island of Borneo and the dates differ between the two Malaysia States.
Padi is still planted by local community including the hill padi, but Sabah is yet to be self-sufficient despite various effort to plant the crop and increase production, it could be cheaper importing than to plant and many of the the padi fields had been converted into housing estates and commercial development. There used to be an State Agency looking after the padi cultivation and harvesting called the Sabah Padi Board but it is now closed and the State Agriculture Department, takes over.There are so many varieties of rice in the market and a Federal Agency looks after the marketing of rice, and it is a controlled item, you need a licence to retail rice.
Padi planting was brought in by the early settlers from China and Taiwan and the other neighboring coutries of Indo-China and Mongolia.The climate is suitable for the planting of padi but the crop is not as lucrative as oil palm, rubber and now 'kayu karas', (that produces 'gaharu' for perfume) which brings better return. Many of the area can be rehabilitated but requires irrigation infrastructure. It is heartening to note that come 2011 Sabah and Sarawak will be turned into the rice bowls of the nation and foreign investors are most welcomed to do rice planting on a commercial basis. Sarawak already has its own special and popular variety of the Bario hill padi but Sabah is yet to have one.
I used to go in a helicopter of the Sabah Air to check on the infrastructure at Trusan Sapi in Sabah's east coast that has been earmarked for rice planting on a large scale with ADB funding, that was a long time ago when I worked at the Economic Planning Unit, that covers an area of 1822 ha of irrigated land and now maintained by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage.
Happy Harvets Festival.
Kementerian Pelancongan Kesenian Dan Alam Sekitar Sabah
Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka
Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia
- ▼ May (5)