Makassar - Economy

Subsistence and Commercial Activities. While fishing is the basis of the economy along the coasts, the cultivation of rice, which is the staple food, dominates in the interior regions. Wet-rice agriculture is to be found both in the lowlands and in the mountainous regions. In the latter, dry rice, maize, and cassava are also staple crops. Other important crops are coconuts, coffee, bananas, cloves, and many kinds of fruit and vegetable. Agriculture is hardly mechanized, especially in the highlands. Only part of the wet-rice fields are mechanically irrigated, and both plowing and harvesting are done in a traditional fashion. In spite of governmental efforts to increase the production of rice (by introducing new varieties of rice, fertilizers, and pesticides), rice agriculture in the backcountry is predominantly self-sufficient. Coffee is the only product that is considered a cash crop by the peasants in these areas. Domestic animals include water buffalo and cattle (both used to draw the plow), goats, chickens, and dogs. Except for dogs, all domestic animals are eaten, but only on ritual occasions. The ordinary daily diet consists of rice, maize, cassava, vegetables, and dried fish, the latter being available in the markets.

Industrial Arts. The traditional art of weaving is no longer practiced in most regions. House building, basketry, and the production of mats are commonly considered professional activities. Blacksmiths are full-time specialists in most villages, but in general occupy very low social positions. In several places along the coast, traditional boat building has survived despite the recent emergence of motorboats.


Trade. The Makassar have for centuries been renowned for their skill as traders; seafaring trade is still very important in coastal locations. Markets, spread all over the country, are dominated in most cases by professional traders. For the majority of the population, products such as tobacco, salt, dried fish, and clothes can only be obtained in the market.


Division of Labor. In general, the division of labor is strict because of the rigid separation of the sexes in everyday life. According to tradition, home tasks are assigned exclusively to women, and female traders are found in every market. In agriculture, men do the hard work, such as plowing and carrying rice bundles after harvest, and in some regions harvest the rice.


Land Tenure. Rice fields and gardens that are part of the traditional village territory are individually owned by either men or women. In addition, everyone has the theoretical opportunity to rent or purchase untilled land, which formerly belonged to the nobility, and nowadays is governmental property. Since such land is very expensive to rent or purchase, these modes of extending control over resources are rarely practiced. In some regions most of the land is controlled by rich (mostly noble) patrons, but sharecropping among relatives is practiced everywhere.


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