Thursday, June 19, 2008

Minahasa, an agricultural region


In December 2006, I was in Minahasa, North Sulawesi. I traveled around the region by car for one week. I visited Sonder, Tincep, Rambunan, Tanawangko, and Manado. I also went to Tomohon, Kawangkoan, Langowan, Bitung and Amurang. I saw most of the small towns of Minahasa, including Leilem, Woloan and Tondano. The scenery was beautiful.

A long the way, I could see farmers growing corn, rice, coconut and even Jati, Cempaka, Lingua, and Mahoni trees. Trees are cut when they have reached around thirty years old. The wood is then sold to furniture and pre-fabricated home companies in Leilem and Woloan.

In Kawangkoan, the farmers grew peanuts. Roasted peanuts are sold along the main road of the town. Tourists liked to visit this town to buy roasted peanuts, dodol, and halua (traditional cookies made of peanuts and palm sugar).

In Sonder, we could see many fish ponds along the river banks. In the middle of the town, businessman run restaurants which are built above the fish ponds. When we want to order fried or grilled fish from the menu, the cook or restaurant worker might ask you to choose the fish from the pond. So, the food that you'll eat is fresh. But Sonder is not only famous for its floating restaurants. In the past, it was famous for its clove plantation. Clove was harvested and sold to cigarette companies such as Gudang Garam, Bentoel, and Djarum in Java. Now clove is not the main commodity of the farmers.

Minahasa is an agriculture region. If we go to mountainous areas, we will see various kinds of farm land filled with commodities that are useful for the economy of the people. Most farmers raise pigs at the back of their houses.

Tondano is the capital town of Minahasa regency. Its is flat. In the suburb, we can see thousands of hectares of paddy field. The small town whose dwellers grow rice is Langowan.

Coconut trees can be found in the whole region of Minahasa. It has become the driving force of local economy for years. Wealthy farmers bring copra from their village to Bimoli factory by trucks or modified Toyota Hardtop. Traditional farmers usually ride pedati, a cow-drawn cart. Agriculture produce is brought from gardens to the market by pedati. Unfortunately, the number of pedati is getting lower replaced by modern trucks.

The soaring price of fuel oil may influence the farmers to use pedati again. It is considered cheaper but slower than a car. Pedati is also a good attraction for tourists who like to travel around the villages of Minahasa.

Well, I think it's enough for now. I will carry on my story about this region in my next article.

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