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Story Publication logo August 29, 2022

Farming, a Dayak Identity that is Now Forbidden (bahasa Indonesia)


people walk through fields

The food estate project in Kalimantan, which was revived to respond to the crisis since the Covid-19...

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Multiple Authors

This story excerpt was translated from bahasa Indonesia. To read the original story in full, visit Kompas. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our RJF website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

Farming is not only for food, but also for Dayak cultural identity. The harvest party marks the Dayak new year, so without farming there would be no new year.

Malan in the Dayak Ngaju language means 'farming'. Not only to meet food needs, farming is also the centre of Dayak life and culture. If this tradition ends, so does their cultural identity.

Sanyo (52)—a mantir adat, or traditional leader in Kalumpang Village, Kapuas Regency, Central Kalimantan—explains the important role of malan in the lives of the Dayak people. "Dayaks who do not farm have lost their identity because almost all of our rituals are related to farming," he said at his home on the banks of the Kapuas River.

Kompas travelled to Kalumpang to learn about the important role farming plays in the lives of Sanyo and his community. However, we could only hear stories of the past because since 2015 the Ngaju Dayak community in Kalumpang and other villages in Central Kalimantan can no longer farm.

Without malan, there is no new year for us.

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Ambun Suteng (43), a resident of Kalumpang Village, Mantangai sub-district, Kapuas district, Central Kalimantan, collects the overgrown kelakai (red fern) in her field. The shrubs have grown thickly since the ban on farming in 2015. Image by Ahmad Arif/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Ambun Suteng and her husband, Sanyo, residents of Kalumpang Village, Kapuas district, Central Kalimantan, search for wild vegetables at their former rice field. Image by Aldo/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Heri Pato, a resident of Kalumpang Village, Kapuas, Central Kalimantan, searches for young rattan to be consumed as a daily vegetable. The young rattan vegetable is a dish that Dayak families look forward to. Image by Aldo/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Infographic by Hans/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Galuh, a Dayak Tomun woman in Kinipan Village, Lamandau Regency, Central Kalimantan, prepares to go to the fields. The Kinipan community's fields are located in forests that they have protected for hundreds of years. Image by Aldo/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.