Growing Food, Sustaining Culture


Find out more info about our programs planned for 2019 and how YOU can be a part of it!

Food Security and Agroecology

No Place for Traditional Farming in the Post-Modern Society?

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Rice is a staple in Malaysian meals, but how much do you know about its production and the challenges the rice sector faces?



Join us in learning about the production of the famous Bario rice in Bario, Sarawak. Also known as beras adan, Bario rice is famed for its traditionally organic hand cultivation by the Kelabits, an indigenous group living in Bario. Paddy planting has been the main source of income for the Kelabits for many years and it is an integral part to their lifestyle and culture.

As society becomes increasingly money-oriented along with the progression of time, plots of paddy fields in Bario are left uncultivated as the laborious cost of manual farming outweighs its returns. The introduction of mechanised farming has successfully revitalised the paddy sector in Bario and provided Kelabits the chance to venture into other more lucrative opportunities.

Unfortunately, this means the diminishing of an essential aspect of the Kelabit culture – traditional paddy farming. In no time, the skills and knowledge of paddy cultivation acquired over centuries will only be found in books and museums if traditional paddy farming is left unpractised.

Can traditional cultures like the hand cultivation of paddy stand the test of time and economically sustain its practitioners? WHEE and the Southeast Asian Council for Food Security and Fair Trade (SEACON)  believe that the answer to that is yes. What is needed for this to happen is that conducive food, agriculture, and trade policies must exist at the domestic, regional, and international levels.


 Where do you come in?

To develop policies, lots of information is needed. WHEE and SEACON will need a great deal of manpower to collect agricultural data from the Kelabit paddy farmers at the grassroots level. Accurate and unbiased information from the farmers is essential in order to develop good policies.

Outcome of information obtained:

Community level Farmers
To align policy recommendations Labour exchange
To promote Bario as a best practice model for socio-economic development of rural communities Motivation to continue traditional farming

As a volunteer for this programme, you will be assigned to a paddy farming family in Bario to gather key information such as farming practices, challenges and opportunities, relevant facts and figures, and so on. You will have the opportunities to work in the paddy field with your assigned Kelabit family and undergo cultural exchange experiences with them. In addition, there will be community activities such as Meet and Greet, Cultural Night, and talk sessions where you can interact and learn more about Bario from the villagers first-hand.

Before embarking on the trip to Bario, you will attend a training session where you will learn more about food security, agroecology, and agriculture in addition to how to carry out your task effectively in Bario.


*check out the FAQTerms & Conditions 

Agriculture may not be the most attractive job in the market, but human life is unsustainable without it. Civilisation was born out of agriculture, and what better way to further the holistic development of society than to going back to the roots of civilisation and reevaluate our journey thus far.

Mark your calendar for 2019and join us for planting season in Bario to change the way rice is produced as you gain a different perspective to society and life.