GEORGETOWN, June 29, 2015:
Malaysians should consider urban farming given the increasing cost of living, says Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
He said land scarcity should not be an issue as under the ministry’s urban farming project, vertical farming, which included growing vegetables and herbs in pots or recycled containers, would address space constraints.
“They can start urban farming to grow vegetables in their gardens, backyard and even on apartment balconies. It will also be chemical-free,” he said at the official launch of an urban farming project by the Penang Consumers’ Association (CAP) here today.
The ministry launched the urban farming concept in March 2014 with an allocation of RM1 million that saw over 5,000 participants.
This year, Ismail Sabri said RM4 million was allocated with a target of getting 20,000 participants. As of May 13,035 have registered, of which 907 were from Penang.
Under the project, participants were provided with basic materials to start a farm in their homes.
The Bera lawmaker said the first phase saw participants being taught to farm minus the use of chemical pesticides as the sites were located within their homes.
Phase two, he explained, would see participants farm without chemical fertilisers.
“We are already teaching the participants to make their own compost from kitchen waste to be used as a natural fertiliser.”
Ismail Sabri commended CAP for starting its own urban natural farming in Penang, Kedah and Perlis using its own funds.
He also hopes that the Penang Agriculture Department would assist CAP in training more people to go into natural farming.
CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris, in his speech earlier, said urban farming not only promoted food security, but was also more economical.
“In Malaysia, a family spends an average of RM350 per month on vegetables alone and by growing some of these vegetables, the costs of purchasing the vegetables can be reduced by a significant amount.”
Mohamed said urban farming had become a trend in countries like India, United States and United Kingdom.
The Malaysian government, he added, should promote and encourage urban farming by integrating it in urban policies and programmes, besides providing support.