ALOR GAJAH: To cope with the changing landscape due to the Covid-19 pandemic, five kindergarten operators have ventured into farming.
The decision was made after assessing the risks they would face if the kindergartens, which had been operating for so long, had to be shut down due to economic uncertainties.
The group of five entrepreneurs also provided an opportunity for ex-prisoners to join them in carrying out agricultural activities at a former rubber plantation site in Brisu near here.
Chahaya Abdul Manan, 59, shareholder of Mokpek Agro Sdn Bhd, said she and four friends agreed to set up an ecotourism concept farm in Brisu, which combines agriculture, livestock breeding and fishery activities.
She added when the kindergartens were closed in March due to the first MCO, she and the other kindergarten operators came to the conclusion that agricultural activities could survive in a challenging economy.
“In June, we decided to take up farming by purchasing a 2.02ha rubber plantation in Brisu worth RM290,000. The shareholders are from Melaka, Selangor and Johor, ” she said in an interview.
Chahaya, who also serves as chairman of the Malaysian Reading Promotion Organisation, said that among the activities carried out at the farm were the planting of ajwa dates, vanilla, black turmeric and bentong ginger.
There is also the breeding of kelah (golden mahseer), tilapia and catfish, the rearing of deer, pygmy goats, ponies and production of honey from stingless bees (kelulut).
“The products will be sold as some of them, such as vanilla, black turmeric, bentong ginger and kelulut honey, are in very high demand.
“This farm also has the potential to be a training centre for children and villagers who want to learn about agriculture in addition to being suitable as an eco-tourism area, ” she added.
Chahaya and the entrepreneurs applied for loans from SME Bank and also used their personal
savings to realise their dream to open the farm.
“The farm has successfully completed the ‘Kelulut Walk’ with 66 kelulut nests, even though it has only been operating for five months, while agricultural and livestock activities are being carried out from time to time.
“We expect to be able to harvest in the next few months, ”
Chahaya said the farm also offered opportunities to reformed former prisoners by allowing them to become shareholders.
Two former prisoners, aged 27 and 49, have been accepted as shareholders in the company.
When tabling Budget 2021 in the Dewan Rakyat on Nov 6, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said that the government would be giving additional tax deductions to employers who provided employment opportunities to former convicts and drug addicts, and helped them to re-integrate with society. — Bernama
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