Get cracking on upping egg supply, lowering food prices

I AM neither a businesswoman, economist nor a farmer but I have seen the fruits of labour from my late grandmother’s farm.

My grandmother Theivanai Sinnayah reared chickens; she also had turkeys and tended to vegetable plots.

This was her retirement activity after toiling in rubber and oil palm estates for many years in Muar, Johor.The writer’s daughter Asha Krishnan (right) and her best friend Isobel Ong harvesting vegetables from the regenerative organic vegetable terrarium.The writer’s daughter Asha Krishnan (right) and her best friend Isobel Ong harvesting vegetables from the regenerative organic vegetable terrarium.

Chicken meat and eggs were prioritised for family consumption and extras were sold to businessmen who were willing to pay a decent price for her produce.

I remember her as a kind person as she also donated chicken and eggs to the poor.

The betel leaves from her farm were sold for a profit and even my grandfather had to pay her if he wanted to sell them at his shop.

My late grandfather, Krishnan Reddy, ran a sundry shop in Muar and sometimes, he would refuse to buy her betel leaves.

The couple meant business when it came to buying and selling of farm products, and it makes me laugh until today thinking about that aspect of their relationship.

My grandmother’s logic was that she worked hard on the farm and deserved to be paid for her betel leaves because they were of good quality.

When the issue of low egg supply and high vegetable prices started making headlines, I was transported to my childhood days.

My grandparents reared chickens and planted vegetables because they had the time and land to do so.

Unlike my grandmother, I have no access to land to plant vegetables as I live in a condominium.

Resorting to modern farming methods suitable for small homes would be my only option.

Interestingly, this was how I came across regenerative organic vegetable terrariums specially designed by paraplegic agriculturist and researcher Dr Billy Tang, who is the founder of PWD Smart Farmability.

He was also recipient of the Star Golden Hearts Award 2020 and Yayasan Gamuda Inspiration Award 2020.

Tang gave me a terrarium when he learned that I was dealing with minor health issues.

He encouraged me to eat pesticide-free vegetables for their nutritional value.

Since May, I have been harvesting a good amount of vegetables from my terrarium.

My vegetables are free of pesticide and fresh, and I enjoy watching them grow.

It gives me a sense of pride feeding my family homegrown veggies. My health, too, has improved.

Tang, who is from Subang Jaya, created these terrariums for people with disabilities (PWDs) and marginalised groups to ensure that nutritious food is accessible to people from all economic backgrounds.

With the high cost of living and escalating prices of raw food, the new government must ensure that there is firstly no monopoly by any company in the food industry.

Small-time farmers like Tang should be given incentives to expand their agricultural activities to reach more marginalised communities.

Perhaps, unemployed youths could return to their hometowns and venture into this sector too.

I also see great potential in operating a chicken farm like my grandmother did.

Most Malaysians are relying on the unity government to get the economy to a better standing as this will help improve the cost of living too.

This was also the election campaign pledge of all political parties during the 15th General Election.

The matter that hits close to home is being able to have affordable food.

As a mother of two young children, it is expensive buying vegetables, fruits and meat in the Klang Valley.

The lack of eggs is simply baffling.

I had to buy kampung eggs recently, which are pricier, because my regular grocer ran out of Grade A, B and C eggs.

I wonder if these were even genuine kampung eggs.

Kampung chicken eggs from my grandmother’s farm were half the size of those being sold in the market.

I am not an expert but the authorities should check on these so-called kampung eggs.

The authorities should also do all that they can to ensure the prices of goods come down so that the people can live comfortably again.

Eggs are among the cheapest form of protein and they need to be affordable to all.

We need to have affordable eggs back on our shelves.

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