Community Farm Enterprise, KG OA ULU GUMUN
Kon ONN Sein, November 2019
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This is a case study of an Orang Asli community in Malaysia and how they have faced the challenging forces of deforestation and globalization. They have developed from a community of hunters and gatherers to natural farming. It will also highlight the struggle to keep their culture and community intact in the midst of this transition. This presentation will show how an Orang Asli community in Pahang has adapted an economic model of shared prosperity to reflect their values and the beginning of their journey to restore their environment.
Orang Asli have not been recognized as a distinct people with special needs. Instead, they are regarded as any other ethnic group. In reality, they are different not just ethnically but also in their connection to their territories and environment. They are forest people ( not urban or rural ) and their culture and identity is dependent on the forest. In contrast, urban and rural people do not need the forest to claim their identity and culture. The Orang Asli regard themselves as part of the forest and not superior to the environment.
In particular, they have worldviews of the forest that is not well understood. They have a worldview that the forest has enough for everyone and therefore, they have a culture of sharing, cooperation and community. The modern world view is that there is not enough and therefore the development discourse is based on competition and individualism. Secondly, the worldview is the forest is a gift from the creator to sustain life. Therefore, they have a sacred respect for nature. They have a culture of taking only enough and ensuring that mother nature continues to thrive and sustain life for all.
Development projects often fail as they fail to appreciate the special position of the Orang Asli. Their development values is not economic based. They have a balanced view of life. Community togetherness, equality and safeguarding the environment have equal value to economic growth. They do not see the forest as an economic unit to be exploited.
The Orang Asli are forced to adapt as the natural resources on which they depend for their livelihood, identity and culture is being destroyed by deforestation. By robbing the Orang Asli of their lands and natural resources upon which they depend, it also diminishes their income and results in multi dimensions of poverty.