Malaysian paraplegic and agriculturist's new book highlights food security and sustainability


  • People
  • Saturday, 22 Jul 2023

Tang (right) with the PWD Smart FarmAbility satellite farm, which ensures that communities in need can enjoy fresh, organic and nutritious protein and vegetables for the long term. Photo: Filepic

Its projects have helped thousands of low-income families and welfare homes supplement their income and nutritional needs with organic vegetables and fish.

And, for its work and efforts, social enterprise PWD Smart FarmAbility has also won numerous local and international awards.

Founded by agriculturist and paraplegic Dr Billy Tang Chee Seng, the enterprise was set up to empower underprivileged communities through regenerative agriculture principles by making nutritious food and food-growing skills accessible to them.

These are namely through its regenerative vegetable terrarium project and the organic tilapia fish and nutrient-dense vegetables aquaponics satellite farms.

Recently, Tang released a book entitled The PWD Smart FarmAbility: Journey From Wheels To Farm, described as “an illustrative guide that presents practical and innovative sustainable agricultural practices to combat climate change, improve food security and promote healthy and more sustainable food choices for all”.

The book introduces three innovative projects – Agri-Innovation: Organic Regenerative Vegetable Terrarium, Ethically Farmed Fish, and Soil-U-tion Satellite Farms System. It showcases the HOPE Boxes and Satellite Farms, which provide fresh, nutrient-dense vegetables and farmed fish to underserved communities without requiring prior agricultural knowledge.

The book also highlights the importance of food literacy and how our food choices impact the planet and our health.

Tang emphasises that agriculture is no longer about farming but feeding for health and highlights the connection between healthy soil, healthy food and a healthy body.The recipient of the Global Leadership Award 2022 for Leadership Excellence in Green Initiatives and Community Service said the book is a wholesome way of spreading his message of hope.

“Being physically limited does not mean being limited in life. The PWD Smart FarmAbility: Journey From Wheels To Farm is an expression of gratitude towards all the people who have assisted and supported me during the most difficult periods of my life.

"It aims to inspire both disabled and able-bodied individuals that we can make a difference despite our conditions and circumstances in life. The book will walk you through a journey rooted in hope, self-determination and a strong will to survive,” said Tang, 57, who was also awarded The Regal British Award 2022 in conjunction with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations in London by the World Humanitarian Drive.

Tang further shared his journey and challenges since setting up the social enterprise.

“The most challenging part is making it sustainable. Within the pages of this book you will find valuable insights and knowledge to enable us to make things happen. Hard work, perseverance, trust and a kind heart make everything possible.

“This book showcases what we have achieved as a social enterprise and the challenges that lie ahead as we move forward. It gives us hope to end hunger and feed the people experiencing poverty for a secure and stable future,” said Tang.

“We adhere to the 5P Sustainability framework, which is Product, Process, People, Planet and Prosperity. Sustainability is survival. As you read through the pages of this book, I hope that you will be inspired to join me and PWD Smart FarmAbility in our mission to help build an inclusive society that supports people from diverse communities and stations in life.

“Together, we can help the underprivileged community get out of the rut regarding their nutritional well-being, which will go a long way in uplifting and sustaining their lives, and creating a positive difference in the world,” said Tang, who also received the National Scroll of Honor Award for Human Settlements in conjunction with UN World Habitat Day in 2022.

Tang received the Global Leadership Award 2022 for Leadership Excellence in Green Initiatives and Community Service in July this year. Photo courtesy of Billy TangTang received the Global Leadership Award 2022 for Leadership Excellence in Green Initiatives and Community Service in July this year. Photo courtesy of Billy Tang

In future, PWD Smart FarmAbility hopes to make an even bigger impact through its work.

“We aim to expand our reach and impact by establishing partnerships with local organisations, governments and international stakeholders. By collaborating with like-minded individuals and institutions, we hope to create a more significant and lasting change for communities.

“We will continue to enhance innovative farming techniques and sustainable agricultural practices. In addition to our focus on agriculture, we hope to empower underserved communities by providing them with micro-credentials, vocational training, and entrepreneurship opportunities.

“Equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge, these communities can sustain themselves economically and lead healthier lives,” he said.

Tang ended the interview with this quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

The PWD Smart FarmAbility: Journey From Wheels To Farm is priced at RM200 per copy.

For details, visit its Facebook page, or go to pwdsmartfarmability.com.

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