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Thread: Projek Cinta: Let The Plants Do The Talking

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2008

    Projek Cinta: Let The Plants Do The Talking

    Let The Plants Do The Talking

    Posted on : Tuesday 16 Sep 2014 12:01 AM

    Topic > Thinking Allowed
    Thinking Allowed
    By Mariam Mokhtar
    You are a keen gardener but the soil in your garden is of poor quality. Fertiliser cannot work wonders and you can’t afford to keep buying what the garden centre markets as “special soil”.

    Perhaps you are someone who consumes only organic fruits and vegetables, but find the cost of organic crops prohibitive. You would much rather grow your own, and enjoy the benefits of harvesting your own produce, but you don’t know how.

    The cumulative amount of vegetable and fruit peelings from your kitchen is sizeable and you wonder if you could reduce the amount of household waste.

    The solution to these three problems is good compost. Recycling your household kitchen waste and converting it into good quality compost, free of preservative and harmful chemicals, is easy. The process does not take much effort, just a little patience. The hard work is done by the sun, earthworms and Black Soldier Flies (BSF). The finished product is known as vermi-compost, in acknowledgement of the worms which produce it.

    Retired construction businessman PY Wong has started what he calls, ‘Projek Cinta’, in his community. When Ipoh Echo caught up with Wong, he said that there was no reason why the same results could not be replicated in Ipoh.

    Wong said that Projek Cinta is all about love for our fellow Malaysians. He said, “Sustainable living is important and it is about going back to basics, with respect to agriculture, and living in harmony with the land, nature and our community.”

    The motivation for this project was propelled by Wong’s passion for social justice and a determination to help secure the future of younger generations. He believes that rural poverty should be addressed through sustainable economic activities, which will benefit the farmers directly, instead of monetary grants.

    In addition to the multiple benefits to the local community and environment, Projek Cinta is also about food security. Wong said, “Recycling our food and organic waste means that the council can reduce the load on our waste dump by over 50%. There will be reduced contamination of our ground water, whilst the vermi-compost that is produced, will promote chemical-free food.

    “Rural communities could increase their incomes, and connect directly with the consumers, who will have access to a guaranteed supply of more healthy food at lower prices. This can be helpful to fight food inflation and promote food security.”

    Wong received some tips from the Centre for Environment, Technology & Development, Malaysia (CETDEM), and has some useful advice for people who are keen to start recycling. He said, “People could dump their food-waste into old tyres, then cover it with a vermin-proof, heavy lid that could not be moved by dogs. If the cover is cut to fit the recess in the tyre, there is no way any rat could lift it up.”

    Most homes have a corner in the garden, where a tyre could be placed and Wong claims that if the waste food is covered with a damp cloth, the smell is not noticeable. He said, “In Malaysia, the rotting food attracts Black Soldier Flies (BSF) which digests the food very quickly. BSF is considered a friendly fly, non-pathogenic because it has no eating parts, only a proboscis for drinking. The leachate will enter the soil and provide natural fertiliser for the plants.”

    Projek Cinta is still evolving, said Wong, “We have been through many trials and errors but we are working towards developing a low-cost system that anyone can set-up, at minimal cost. Once we get it working, we duplicate it.”

    Two years ago, Wong started off in SS17 in Subang Jaya, by working with the Rukun Tetangga. He said, “Now we are working to persuade our neighbours to agree on our Zero-Foodwaste Programme. This means that no food waste will leave SS 17. Everything will be recycled. On our road, we have 80% acceptance from those we have approached.”

    To show the success of recycling food-waste, he grew fruits and vegetables in the vermi-compost. He said, “The healthy okra and corn in the garden, which we created in front of our house, were a convincing argument. People were very impressed in the results.

    When passers-by approach him to chat about his plants, he uses the opportunity to sell them the idea of going back to basics, and planting their own food, to maximise land-usage and convert food waste into compost.

    He is keen to promote the need for food security, and the supply of food at prices lower than the supermarkets. In addition, the food is fresher and chemical-free, because it is grown with vermi-compost. He suggests growing one’s own food, to offset the increasing cost of living.

    Wong claims that Projek Cinta has changed his life. “Going back to agriculture and nature is what many people would like to do, given the opportunity. I feel blessed to be able to afford the time to do this.

    “We let the plants do the talking and residents are attracted to the large and fast-growing plants. We hope to get more people on board our programme.”

    Tags : 197, Composting, Recycling Kitchen Scraps, Highlight,

    About Author

    Mariam Mokhtar

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    05 Jul 2015 10:00 AM

    Yes to urban farming, but what about food security?


    OUTSPOKEN: Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob is right to encourage Malaysians to grow their own food, but we would like know his plans to increase Malaysia’s self-sufficiency in food.

    Ismail Sabri Yaakob
    Malaysia relies heavily on food imports. We do not have food security and we do not produce enough to feed ourselves. In times of war, or famine, we will not be able to feed the nation. Kedah is no longer the “rice bowl of Malaya” and to make matters worse, cronyism means that despite the promises of the crony, his allegiance is to his political masters, who will ignore the interests of Malaysian farmers and the rakyat.

    Some of the benefits of urban farming are below.

    A number of people will make money from their home garden. High quality, chemical free and locally produced food, is attractive to restaurateurs and grocers, who are willing to pay good money, for this fresh produce. The home herb garden and vegetable patch, can generate a satisfying side income.

    Being an urban farmer will give some people a meaning in life. Some senior citizens enjoy the occupation, and young adults and children learn about caring for living things, about responsibility and the connection with the land. The excitement of seeing their produce growing will be enhanced when they reap the benefits of their hard work, at harvest time. Being outdoors promotes a healthier lifestyle.

    Ismail is correct to say that urban famers do not need much land or even their own land. Three years ago, in Subang Jaya, PY Wong, a retired construction businessman started what he called, ‘Projek Cinta’, growing okra, sweetcorn and other vegetables in a tiny patch of land between the front of his house and the road. Such was his success, that he started to plant on idle land around a nearby reservoir.

    People in flats can use their balconies to grow tomatoes, chillies and herbs. More enterprising gardening enthusiasts, use hydroponic farming techniques, to grow vegetables on their balconies, without the use of soil.

    Wong had not expected to become the leading expert in his community. People who pass his house, stop to ask about his produce and are in turn, encouraged by his activities. In Wong’s ‘Zero-Foodwaste Programme’, food waste is recycled. In his community, at least 80% of the food waste is turned into vermi-compost. In Wong’s garden, empty tyres and old barrels are filled with vermi-compost to grow more vegetables for his family’s needs.

    He said, “Recycling our food and organic waste means that the council can reduce the load on our waste dump by over 50%. There will be reduced contamination of our ground water, while the vermi-compost that is produced, will create chemical-free food.

    “Rural communities could increase their incomes, and connect directly with the consumers, who will have access to a guaranteed supply of more healthy food at lower prices. This can be helpful to fight food inflation and promote food security.”

    When Ismail said, that in phase two of the government’s urban farming plan, he would like “participants to make their own compost from kitchen waste, as a natural fertiliser.” He probably wants other people to emulate the enterprising spirit shown by Wong.

    While efforts are being made by private individuals and the Agriculture Ministry to encourage urban farming, the state of agriculture in Malaysia is neither healthy nor encouraging.

    The tycoon who controls Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas), which has a monopoly on rice imports, is Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary. In June 2014, PKR Alor Star MP Gooi Hsiao Leung asked a question about rice imports. Ismail responded in Parliament, that the duty on rice imported between 2008 and 2013, had been waived. Gooi alleges that Putrajaya waived RM2.25 billion worth of duty on rice imported during this period.

    An agricultural consultant, who wishes to remain anonymous, wondered about the ministry’s efforts to encourage young people into farming. He said, “The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) statistics from 2004, showed that 10 years ago, 70% of farmers were over the age of 45, with 45% over the age of 55. Today, it is worse. Our rural youth are migrating to the cities, and they are not returning.”

    He claims that the govt is careful to hide these facts from the general public.

    “During the 70s and 80s, experts were concerned about the nation’s food production. The MoA talks about the palm oil industry as agriculture. They ignore what the experts and seasoned farmers have been telling them, for decades.”

    Having advised many big corporations and governments, he said, “There is an incredible amount of corruption, in agriculture and aquaculture, in Malaysia. Our leaders would probably prefer to import foreign labour for our farms, but this is causing the total breakdown of our social structure. The government has created no incentives to encourage Malaysians to farm the land.”

    Claiming that he could disclose many instance of corruption in agriculture, he advised, “We must show our youth, that agriculture and aquaculture can make money, but we need to show rural Malaysians that they need not abandon the villages. They just need help and guidance.”
    Mariam Mokhtar is “a Malaysian who dares to speak the truth”.


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