THE Covid-19 outbreak has had a profound impact on communities in Malaysia and in most countries around the world.
The movement control order (MCO) introduced by the government to combat the spread of the virus, while necessary, has led to some challenges, especially in obtaining food supplies.
However, that is not the case for the residents of Mutiara Magna in Kuala Lumpur, where their over-0.4ha community garden has been described as “a blessing” during this difficult situation.
The community garden helps provide fresh local vegetables ranging from daun pegaga to bok choy for needy families.
Mutiara Magna Urban Community Garden is an urban food garden along the riverbank of Sungai Keroh in Kepong.
Established last year, it is managed by the Pangsapuri Mutiara Magna Rukun Tetangga under the River of Life Public Outreach Programme Phase 5 (ROLPOP5).
Before the community garden was cultivated, the riverbank used to be squalid and deserted filled with weeds and bushes. It was also an illegal parking spot.
“It is not much but it helps sustain the vulnerable families as for some, their monthly income has been affected ever since the MCO commenced on March 18, ” said Zuredisham Zulkefli, who is responsible for the garden as well as coordinating the distribution of the vegetables.
“With the night markets and morning roadside markets closed due to the MCO, it is difficult for us to get fresh vegetables. The community garden is a life-saver for us, ” said Zuredisham.
Dr K. Kalithasan, a ROLPOP5 project manager who is also a river and waste management expert from the Global Environment Centre, said, “The idea of establishing an urban community garden near a river is to create an ecosystem that reconnects community and river which will eventually nurture ownership attitude to care for our rivers.
“The current pandemic that has led to the MCO underlines the importance of food security.
“A community garden or edible garden is seen as one of the ways to overcome food shortage, in addition to developing a resilient community connected closely to the environment, ” he added.
He expressed hope that government agencies and the private sector would encourage and support more people to build community gardens along riverbanks to encourage local food production as well as protect and care for rivers.
Under the Federal Territories Ministry, Drainage and Irrigation Department and the ROLPOP5 initiative, three successful community gardens have been established.
They are AU2 Community Garden, Seri Terengganu Community Garden and Mutiara Magna Community Garden.
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