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J. Trop. Resour. Sustain. Sci. 3 (2015) 117-128

Indigenous People and Their Traditional Knowledge on Tropical Plant Cultivation and Utilization: A Case Study of Murut Communities of Sabah, Borneo

Nur Muhammed1*, Theresa Antonia Muthu2

1Faculty of Science and Natural Resources (Forestry Complex), Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Jln. UMS, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
2Agronomist, IOI Corporation Berhad (Plantation Division), Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia

*Email Address : [email protected]

Abstract : This study was conducted in Murut indigenous people inhibited two villages of Keningau district of Sabah Borneo which is blessed with vast cultural diversities. In this regard, 120 randomly selected households from the Nabaai and Gana tribes of Murut community were investigated with a view to identify their homestead plants, use pattern and also their Traditional Knowledge on plant utilization. Five major research tools (e.g., review of secondary information, key Informant interview, household survey with semi-structured questionnaire and focus group discussion) was employed in this study. It is found that the plant species found in the homestead of the Nabaai and Gana tribes are utilized for three main reasons i.e., i) food production, ii) medicine, and iii) fuel wood. There are 23 utilization pattern has been identified in this study which is much lesser than what was found a decade ago (68 utilization). The Nabaai and Gana tribes practice Traditional Knowledge in their daily life especially, in medicinal plant utilization. The findings also show that most of the Traditional Knowledge on plant utilization is lying with the respondents with low income group (59%) because of their high dependency on utilization of the surrounding resources in their daily life. Appropriate steps to preserve and conserve the Traditional Knowledge on plant utilization possessed and practiced by the Murut indigenous communities are deemed necessary before this huge nature treasure is forgotten.

Keywords : Murut,indigenous people,traditional knowledge,homestead,medicinal plants,