Ata Sikka - Economy

In the past, Sikkanese agriculturalists were almost wholly dependent on the shifting cultivation of dry fields. The techniques of shifting cultivation are still employed in the eastern and western regions of the district but the cultivation of a variety of species of the leguminous lamtoro ( Leucaena sp.) has increasingly allowed intensive cultivation of permanent unirrigated fields, which has replaced shifting cultivation in much of densely populated central Sikka. The main subsistence crops are rice, maize, and cassava, supplemented by millet, sorghum, and sweet potato. Only the coastal villages have the opportunity for offshore fishing to supplement subsistence agriculture. Commercial fishing, which is a growing industry, is principally in the hands of Butonese, Makassarese, and Chinese entrepreneurs. The traditional economy of central Sikka was radically transformed by the Dutch-induced planting of the coconut palm and sale of copra in the first half of the twentieth century. Clear-cutting of native forests for coconut cultivation and poor management of the coconut plantations resulted in severe degradation of both soil and water resources. In recent years the government has fostered small-scale herding of cattle in some northern coastal areas. Domestic animals include dogs, cats, pigs, goats, ducks, chickens, and horses. Property rights are vested in land, trees, houses, horses, elephant tusks, gold, silver, cloth, and old armaments. The household is the main landowning unit, with residual rights over unclaimed land traditionally belonging to either the "lord of the earth" ( tana pu'ang ) or the raja.

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