Traditional rice and their eating qualities
By Senior Research Officer Teo Gien Kheng
Email address : email@example.com Sarawak cannot compete with West Malaysia in rice cultivation as she lacks the prerequisites of basic infrastructure namely, efficient drainage and irrigation system. For the past 40 years cultivation has remained mainly a monoculture except in a few irrigation schemes. It is costly to invest in effective drainage and irrigation facilities especially in hilly and undulating terrain. Therefore, most of Sarawak’s rice lands are still upland and rain fed. Most of these farms have never been ploughed and there are no bunds around the rice fields to help retain the rain water. The rice environment in Sarawak is therefore very diverse and unpredictable. Rice fields are prone to floods, drought and other soil constraints. Due to these prevailing problems, farmers plant a single crop of rice per season. Their choice of rice is usually their own traditional variety which has been well adapted to uncertain changes in the environment. Most of the popularly planted and excellent tasting rice thrive in these environments as these are the farmers’ selections and require low farm inputs. In fact many traditional rice growers do not apply fertilizers as the riverine soil is continually enriched by daily tidal flooding. Modern or improved varieties which are bred for more favorable rice lands fail to express their full potential in the farmers’ fields because of the physical constraints of the ground. In this respect, Sarawak has the physical setting and socio economic backdrop for the cultivation of good tasting rice varieties which are low yielding but can command a premium price. Moreover, Sarawak is unique compared to west Malaysia as she can boast of many specialized and sophisticated rice markets where rice is sold by variety. This is a critical prerequisite for the increased production of good tasting traditional rice and the transmission of...
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