To the Editor of the “Sarawak Gazette.”

DEAR SIR,—I trust the following communication may prove not uninteresting to some of your readers.
    Even long before I came to live among the Sebuyow population at Lundu I thought that rice-cultivation among the Dyaks of all races would by a number of improvements be rendered much more remunerative than it has proved hitherto; therefore (with my wife as chief assistant and superintendant &c., &c.) I set up as a farmer myself, i.e. begged or borrowed a piece of land from the Dyaks, which I got cleared and planted, more or less, after my own notions.  In some minor points I have succeeded in persuading, at least some, that my way was the more profitable and more sure way of proceeding.
    When I came to know that there were many varieties of rice, I begged of all and everyone with whom I came in contact to let me have, from their farms, some ears at least of any kind of paddy which they might think I had not yet in my possession.  I obtained in the first year some forty varieties each with its proper name attached to it.  The following year I got new varieties from far and near, both hill-rice and wet-ground-rice.  That was the year when yourself saw some eighty five quite distinct varieties of paddy suspended each with its name ticketted to it on the wall in my verandah.  I then was anxious to try the many varieties in order to discover which of them under varying circumstances would be the most profitable to plant; I did not however make any discovery that was not previously known among the natives; but I soon made the discovery that I was not young enough for profitable farming experiments, so I have altogether left it to younger hands.
    I think it is pretty common among all the natives of Sarawak (who plant paddy), to distinguish three classes of paddy.
    1  Paddy to be planted first, requiring a longer time to grow, bear and ripen, say from six to seven months, Acheh being number one of these.  I should say in Lundu, among the Dyaks who farm on low ground, from 75 to 90 per cent. of the paddy ground is planted with this variety.  2  Paddy Palong, Mayang Pinang, Silah, Ginjong (called by the Chinese Soo-Long) are planted in larger or smaller quantities according to individual likings; the Dalong rice cooks much softer than Ah Cheh rice, but it is not sticky.  These varieties, in planting out, succeed Ah Cheh immediately, [p. 61] then come Mit Buah, Sambas, the many varieties of glutinous rice (pulut) in chromic gradations, then 3, the quickly growing and ripening varieties, again with chromic gradations, some of which are Paddy Kunyit, Banjar, Katumbar, Palang and last and quickest Pengangkat (being ripe some four months after being planted out, or may be, even less); this latter class comprises a few kinds also of glutinous rice, both white and black.
    Of glutinous rice I believe I had more than thirty varieties and among these some twenty of which the ground rice is either perfectly or partially black, the grains of some varieties of paddy are very large, those of others very small.  There is one variety of which I had several ears at different harvest seasons, which among the Sebuyow Dyaks at Lundu is called Paddy Tuma which has a grain not very much larger than the wild paddy which grow all the year round on and near old farming grounds and also as a weed among new paddy.  The wild paddy, called Paddy Pipit, grows taller than most of the cultivated kinds of paddy, has no particular season for bringing the grains to ripeness, and birds, pipits especially, devour the grain generally before its perfect ripeness, however, enough is always left for its reproduction, this wild variety also sends out many stalks and ears from one common stock like most, if not all, of the cultivated varieties.  the whole plant has unmistakeably the character of the paddy plant but cannot be identified with any of the cultivated varieties, to the best of my knowledge, at least the abovementioned variety Paddy Tuma is not a tall growing plant, its ears are short; the ears of Paddy Pipit are very long, but still, with grain and all, decidedly paddy like.  The grain of Paddy Tuma (cultivated) is contained in a pale husk and about the size of coriander seed, whilst the grain of the wild Paddy Pipit is contained in a darkish, deeply grooved husk and rather smaller and much lighter than the grain of Paddy Tuma.  The grain of Paddy Empijat is somewhat larger and contained in a brownish husk; Paddy Kattumbar is larger still, Paddy Buko larger again and son to the largest grained varieties.  In shape the many varieties vary almost more or less one from the other, the grain in some varieties approaching very near to perfect roundness and ball-form; in some very nearly cylindrical, in others tapering towards both ends; some with shallow single grooves, some with deep; some with double and (perhaps) triple grooves, and in shades of colour varying every one from every other in a more of less marked and distinct degree.  Ah Cheh, Dallong, Mayang Penang, Sambas Gihjong, Mit buah, Silah putih, Mayang Bubok, Pengangkat and others yield white rice after little pounding.  Paddy Silah merah Buri and other red and reddish grained kinds yield white rice only after prolonged pounding; so do some of the black grained kinds; but I have seen a few kinds of black rice (also glutinous, sticky) which no pounding would free from its black colouring material.
    Some kinds of paddy are scented both in the plant and in the grain; of one kind the cooked rice sends a perfume to a considerable distance; birds prefer scented varieties to others.
    It is however the aim of most farmers to have but a few varieties as possible so as to have least trouble with storing each in its separate place.  Some people keep planting certain varieties for fancy purposes and so the many varieties are still maintained and increased by the importation year by year, of new varieties from Sumatra, Java, the islands thereabout and the farming grounds of this great island of Borneo.
    In planting different varieties promiscuously on the same piece of ground, new varieties are formed, which, as far as I have observed, continue permanent.  I have for instance had a plant of long white grained paddy growing close to a plant of round red grained paddy; some of the grain of the red grained variety was found to be white but still round; some of the white grained variety had now red grains but not altered in shape; some white grained varieties being planted near black grained ones would produce a percentage of black grain, retaining its own form.  I had one variety of large grained paddy which had this distinguishing mark that in its long ears some three, four, five or even six grains would grown in one cluster from one point in the stalk; having planted other varieties among this these adopted this peculiarity and according to their kinds they produced various changes in that one variety which in Lundu is called paddy sangking.
    I am fully persuaded that in Borneo alone there are above one hundred permanent varieties of paddy, but whether they all, or any of them, are the descendents of the wild growing Paddy Pipit, it is impossible for me to say.
    Believe me, dear Sir,
        Yours very truly,
            J. L. ZEHNDER

Lundu, July, 1882.