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Anton - self portrait


Anton with informant


Anton with informants

Anton Griffith

Victoria University of Wellington

Anton has now completed his Masters degree and graduated with an MA in Geography in 2005. His thesis is titled: "Collective contract farming in Sarawak, Malaysia: A study of patterns of participation". His research focussed on indigenous participation in State-run farming schemes in Sarawak, using fish-cage farming in Lubok Antu as a case study. He was awarded a $2500 Malay Studies Scholarship, and left Wellington in August 2003 to undertake a period of two months fieldwork in Sarawak.

A study of participation in Contract Farming

Fieldwork in Luboc Antu, Sarawak, Malaysia, mid-2003

On arrival in Sarawak, I unexpectedly found I would not be allowed to remain in the state for a continuous stay of longer than one month (the three month entry permit for citizens of Commonwealth countries that applies on the Malay Peninsula dos not apply in Sarawak).

My first week was spent in the capital, Kuching, gathering secondary material literature and statistics, arranging and conducting interviews with current and former relevant officials, attempting to generate contacts in the field, and attempting to get a special visa to circumvent having to leave the country within a month. The latter endeavour was unsuccessful, as was procuring suitable maps (I was, however, able to borrow a GPS instrument from the University of Malaysia, Sarawak).

The next three weeks were spent at the 'field site', Lubok Antu. The first few days were spent meeting with the relevant officials for purposes of protocol, and finding accommodation. Some of the first three weeks was spent staying at the Agriculture Department's area station where aquaculture officers and other relevant officials are based, interviewing various staff, procuring statistics and other information and making general observations about the scheme. Unfortunately, I found that some of my information about the scheme to be out-of-date, making parts of my survey design redundant. However, I found local staff and residents to be very helpful and , luckily, I was able to quickly establish a more accurate picture of the situation that I could then use to adapt my study and its instruments. The rest of the time was spent staying with scheme participants and conducting a preliminary survey of the study's target population, including a visit to each of Lubok Antu's 22 settlements, and conducting interviews with community leaders and other selected individuals.

On the advice of staff at the University of Malaysia, Sarawak, I then travelled to Brunei (the safer of two neighbouring countries not separated by sea) before the expiration of the one-month granted to me by immigration authorities. I returned three days later, was granted another month by authorities, and travelled back to the field site. The remainder of the time was largely spent carrying out a survey of households amongst the 'target population', the largest single research task. I am proud to report that this survey was a success; enough data was collected for me to be sufficiently confident about the results of statistical analysis. In addition, two remaining interviews with relevant officials and some open interviews with selected locals were completed. The last few days of the trip were spent in the capital again, collecting some remaining data from government libraries.