Adaptive Strategies


The Minankabau first arrived at the highlands of Sumatra around the 15th century. The area had rich soil and abundant fresh water. Valuable natural resources such as gold, silver, copper and ivory were also plentiful. Through foraging and agriculture, the Minankabau aquired everything they needed for survival. Local trade also existed between the Minankabau and neighboring groups; particularly the gold trade. The Minankabau's relative self-sufficiency lasted until the late 18th century. Due to the arrival of Europeans and depletion of gold supplies, the Minankabau became more reliant on trade and contact with outside nations. Many Minankabau became merchants as opposed to simply farmers.

external image 02_00265_L.jpgexternal image photo4.jpg

The Highlands of Sumatra


Agriculture is the main component of the Minankabau's economy. By far the most common crop grown is rice. Rice is generally farmed using paddie fields, a technology the Minankabau developed before contact with Europeans. Paddie field farming involves planting crops in flooded fertile land; it is very effective because it allows for farming on steep slopes. The Minankabau also grow coconut palm, peanuts, nutmeg and numerous vegetables. Beginning in the early 20th century the Minankabau began to cultivate coffee and rubber as well. Cattlebreeding, most prominently Buffaloes and Bulls, is also part of Minankabau agriculture. They use the water buffalo extensively to help with paddy field farming.

external image danandrosemarie.1119517680.dsc00429.jpg
A paddy field in Sumatra