Plant Uses in Minor Subsistence of Hill Peoples: From an
OCHIAI Yukino, Ph.D.
Kagoshima University Museum
In this paper, I focus on various plants used for minor subsistence of local people and suggest the role of them in people-plant relationships in mainland Southeast Asia. The various plants includes both cultivated plants like minor crops grown in home gardens and swidden fields, and wild plants like trees, grasses, herbs, climbing plants, water plants and weeds collected from different habitats like fallow lands, secondary forests, watershed, roadside and settlements. They are used for many purposes, such as for food, medicine, housing, materials, textiles, fuels, religions and rituals. Thus, people in this region still use a great diversity of plants for everyday domestic life mainly for self sufficiency, in addition to the useful plants for major subsistence, such as rice for main staple and crops and plants for cash income. Apparently, they do not have importance as the main staple and market value as the cash crops. However, even though they are not indispensable, they are still used based on personal concern and preference of local people and are kept with associated cultural practices and knowledge that evolved around it. Therefore, it can be pointed out that the various useful plants can be treated as a key factor for designing well-balanced landscape and biodiversity conservation in rural villages and also maintenance of quality of life of local people.