The Fishing Industry In Malaya And Indonesia
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In the reconstruction of Far Eastern societies after the war attention must be paid to the native peasantry. They are an integral part of the economic fabric there. Yet their needs have often been looked upon as more social and administrative than economic. Legal, educational, medical, nutritional problems have often been tackled without a full realization that these are bound up with fundamental difficulties of income-depending in turn on difficulties in the organization of marketing, the supply of capital and the technical utilization of resources. These problems have become more urgent with the entry of large-scale development by Western interests. This has brought the impact of new techniques of production, immigration of foreign labour, a more widespread use of money, a greatly increased range of consumer's goods on offer, and a closer dependence on the price fluctuations of international markets in commodities such as rubber, copra and tin. Each of these factors has at times given new opportunities to the peasant. The establishment of plantations, as those of rubber in Malaya, can show him profitable new crops and, if he learns the lesson, can teach him useful ways of improving his cultivation. The opening up of new roads and railways can give him a wider market among the labourers for the local sale of his fruit and vegetables. It can give him also a chance of earning money as a labourer himself during the slack season in his agriculture. Though he does not work in the tin mines himself, a boom in the mining industry, reflected in a larger labour force and possibly also in increased wages, tends to increase the demand for the areca nut, dried fish and other products which.he exports to the larger centres. But all these things challenge his traditional way of life and set him problems of adaptation. Moreover, the more successful he is in widening his economic universe and moving away from his basic subsistence economy, the more he is liable to be faced by insecurity. To the risks of nature in drought and flood he has added the hazardsequally incalculable to him-of world prices regulated by overseas demand and supply. A change from rice to rubber, lucrative
as it may be at the time, may involve him in an economic depression which whittles down the cash income on which he has now come to rely to take the place of his reduced growing of food. To achieve a wise balance between subsistence production and production for cash is a problem which is difficult if not impossible for him to solve by his own efforts and initiative.