Nicobarese - Economy



Nicobarese are agriculturalists and fisherfolk. Their main crops are rice, maize, fruits, vegetables, and, most Importantly, coconuts and betel nuts. Their principal industries are copra making and oil pressing. Each Nicobarese household maintains a coconut and betel-nut plantation that can range in extent from one-quarter hectare to several hectares. The coconut tree is valued for more than its fruit: its wood is used for building, and its leaves are used for making mats, torches, and canoe covers. All Nicobarese households also raise pigs and poultry. Chowra Islanders specialize in the construction of canoes and earthenware pots. As the Chowra Islanders have a reputation for being great magicians, the Nicobarese will use only Chowra pottery for ritual food preparation and hold that canoes must be Chowra-made, or at least blessed by a Chowra ritual specialist ( menluana ). Men and women enjoy equal economic rights and position, although household tasks are largely performed by women and heavy work tends to be male-dominated.

Land Tenure. General rights to land are vested in the joint family, under the control of the household head. However, since land is abundant, use rights are easily gained by anyone willing to clear a bit of forest. As long as the land is worked, its use right may pass along from parent to child.


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