KUALA NERANG: The dry wintering season from February to May is when rubber trees shed leaves which also causes sharp fall in volume of latex produced, thus affecting rubber tappers’ income.
For the sake of survival, these rubber tappers, especially smallholders in the interior, do various odd jobs to generate extra income including finding forest produce while a group of them in Kampung Tanjung Piring in Naka, near here, choose to embark on “menghambat ikan” (catching fish using traditional method).
This is a unique technique of the local villagers who take advantage of low water level in the river during dry season to catch fish and this method has been practiced for decades.
Sharing the experience with Bernama here, Che Hat Ismail, 75, said it has become a daily activity for the residents during the wintering season in which the rubber trees shed their leaves annually to increase their income either for consumption or to be sold.
“This technique requires participants to work together by forming two groups, to trap and catch the fish. The first group puts the net in the shallow water across the river while the other group will walk in large groups to the upstream and to start making noise including beating the water surface,” he said.
The noise will cause the fish to come out of hiding and swim downstream, and among the fishes they often catch are lampam (tinfoil barb), sebarau (hampala), terbul (hard-lipped barb) and baung (catfish).
Another rubber tapper, Muhd Fauzi Jalil, 39 said the fishing was usually done from noon to late afternoon.
“Usually, we manage to catch around 30 to 40 kilogrammes of fish which we will divide among us equally,“ he said.
As for 46-year-old Abdullah Ismail, he chose to go to the forest to find bamboo which will then be sold, but if he finds a suitable location, he will catch fish too.
“I usually bring it home for my family, and sell to my friends if there is a demand,” he said, adding the side incomes provide a comfortable life for his family, on top of RM400 from weekly rubber latex sales. — Bernama