AT 74, farmer Lau Yong Soon still tends to his pepper and cocoa plants every day.
His 1.4ha farm, which is behind his wooden house in Jalan Meruton-Merudu in Sarikei, Sarawak, has been his main source of income for the past 44 years.
Besides pepper and cocoa, Lau also grows several seasonal fruit trees such as the olive-like dabai (Canarium odontophyllum) and rambutan.
“I started farming when I was about 30. I used to have 1,100 black pepper plants but now there are only 300 left,” he said.
The pepper vines occupy half an acre while most of his land is dotted with 400 cocoa trees.
“My cocoa trees provide me with a regular income as most of the trees can be harvested every four months,” he said.
When asked about the secret to his youthful looks, Lau said, “I keep active working on my farm, as I am a full-time farmer.
“I also drink herbal tea and eat mulberries, which provide a good source of iron and vitamin C”.
The mulberries are also plucked from his garden.
Lau doesn’t smoke or consume alcohol.
“I live a very simple life – early to bed and early to rise,” he said.
He has his wife, son and three grandchildren helping him on the farm.
“My grandchildren have been helping me during their free time since they were young. I am very privileged to have them,” said Lau.
One of his grandchildren, Lau Eng Hui, 19, was seen carrying out some cleaning work and putting fertiliser around the pepper plants.
Eng Hui said, “My elder and younger sisters, together with a cousin, like to help grandpa.
“Since I don’t have a full time job currently, I spend most of my time on the farm.”