GEORGE TOWN, June 29 ― More Malaysians should consider following the trend of urban farming, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said today, pointing out that it would not only help alleviate the burden of soaring living costs but also helps families eat healthier home-grown products.
He said at a time when living costs are increasing, it is more economical for Malaysians to start urban farming by growing their own vegetables in their gardens, backyard or even in their apartment balconies.
“Lack of land is not an issue for urban farming as under the ministry's urban farming project, we use the vertical farming method that uses very limited spaces, for example, we can plant in pots and we can even see some people uses recycled containers to plant their own vegetables,” he said at the official launch of an urban farming project by the Penang Consumers' Association (CAP).
The ministry launched the urban farming concept in March 2014 with an allocation of RM1 million and more than 5,000 participants for the pilot project.
“This year, we allocated RM4 million with a target of getting 20,000 participants in the project but as at May, we have 13,035 participants nationwide under this project,” he said.
In Penang, a total 907 people are participating under the project and have been allocated a total RM145,000.
Ismail Sabri said the high number of participants indicate that urban farming is a viable project that attracts many people and is suitable as a new culture and way of life for those living in the city.
Under the urban farming project, participants are provided with basic materials to start a farm in their homes.
During the first phase, participants are taught not to use any chemical pesticides since these urban farms are located within their homes.
“We will soon go into phase two which is not to use any chemical fertiliser for the plants and currently we are already teaching the participants to make their own compost from kitchen waste to be used as a natural fertiliser,” Ismail Sabri said.
He commended CAP for starting its own urban natural farming in Penang, Kedah and Perlis using its own funds.
“I hope the Penang Agriculture Department will assist CAP in training more people to go into natural farming,” he said in his opening speech.
Earlier, CAP president S.M.Mohamed Idris said urban farming not only promotes food security and homegrown food but also leads to important savings for poor urban households.
“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 cut to a significant amount,” he said.
He pointed out that urban farming is a growing trend in other countries like India, United States and United Kingdom.