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Friday August 23, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Friday August 23, 2013 MYT 10:25:54 AM
I REFER to the report “Neighbour-hood cultivation” (The Star, Aug 13) showing a group of youths tending a vegetable garden in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur.
I was amazed with the mini-chilli farm grown using the hydroponic method in the backyard of my friend’s neighbour’s house in Klang that was flush with ripe red chillies ready for harvesting.
According to my friend, his new neighbour is a recently retired executive of a private company who started his mini-chilli farm only six months ago.
The “farmer” has been reaping quite a handsome profit selling his chillies to his customers at slightly cheaper than the price of red chillies sold at the Klang market.
His chillies are fresh as they are plucked only when they are sold. Given that the demand for chillies and popular vegetables is fluctuating, it might be a good idea for people to grow their own vegetables.
It would be too taxing perhaps if vegetable plots were managed individually. In order to be better managed and more cost-effective, it is better to have a group of people who live within the same neighbourhood to start and manage a small to medium size farm on leased land, preferably state land or land reserved for utilities or infrastructure such as drain reserves, road reserves, TNB reserve land, abandoned or unused land.
Nominal fees or rental may be charged by the landowners and the farms may be called “community vegetable farms”, with the Agriculture Ministry providing advice and technical assistance.
Items such as seedlings, fertilisers, farm equipment and accessories can be sold to community farms at tax deducted prices for their use throughout the country.
If necessary, the Public Works Department and Department of Irrigation and Drainage could also assist in the design and installation of irrigation and drainage systems and installation of pipes to supply water to the farms.
Beside chillies, vegetables such as brinjals, egg-plant, tomatoes, long beans, lady’s fingers, mustard, spinach, kangkong, lemons, lime, cucumber and sweet potato can be planted.
Places with colder climates can also plant cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, lettuce, radish, spring onions, broccoli and beetroot.
All farm produce are to be sold to the people in the community at prices cheaper than the market’s and the excess can be sold to restaurants or institutions.
The bigger part of the profits should be channelled back to maintain the farms with the balance used to pay dividends to the shareholders.
In place of subsidies, no tax whatsoever should be levied by the Government on the profits.
Not too long ago, India announc-ed a nationwide campaign for its citizens to grow chillies and this call has been well received.
The Government should encourage community farming throughout the country.
This will help check the price of vegetables and prevent manipulation of prices by unscrupulous traders who may take advantage of consumers’ demand for these vegetables.
Consumers will be assured of eating fresh and non-contaminated vegetables. They can also be assured of a continuous supply of their favourite vegetables.
HUSSAINI ABDUL KARIM
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