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The People of Mount Kinabalu

The flanks of Kinabalu are inhibited by the local Kadazandusun people, hill farmers who practice shifting cultivation. Traditional crops such as hill rice, tapioca and sweet potatoes are still grown extensively, but in the 50's the introduction of temperate vegetable farming was started and changed the way of life for many. By 1958 the government approved list of vegetables included cabbages, carrots, french beans, celery, capsicums and tomatoes.  Today, roses and chrysanthemums and other cut flowers are also grown here.

Hill farming is still practiced, the main crops now being rice and pineapples - the roadside stalls at the small town of Kundasang, six kilometers (ten miles) beyond Kinabalu Park HQ are daily loaded down with local produce. The Kinabalu Park and the tourist industry are also major employers, and the sale of handicrafts and souvenirs has also become a popular source of income for local people.

Kadazandusun Costume

Many of the plants within and around the edges of the Kinabalu Park are still used by the Kadazandusun for medicine, food, fuel, construction and handicrafts. In 1992 the Kinabalu Ethnobotanical Project was started by the Kinabalu Park staff. The purpose of this was to collate information on the plants used by the Kadazandusun people. By 1998, when the project was wound down, more than 9,000 specimens had been collected. The results show that traditional medicine is still the main recourse for many people who fall sick, with 31% of the plants recorded being used this way.


Kundasang vegetable stalls. They also have roses (bottom right).

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