Cultivating self-reliance through urban farming

PETALING JAYA: Urban farming is a means to better self-reliance while lowering the nation’s food import bill, says Persatuan Lestari Alam Malaysia.

Its chairman Rashdan Rashid said the rising cost of living and the Covid-19 pandemic had resulted in a growing interest in urban farming.

“There are 40 registered urban farming communities in Kuala Lumpur with over 80 applications from those who are interested to learn more,” he said.

Under the programme, communities are first taught to grow leafy greens such as spinach, sawi and kangkung.

“Once they are more advanced, they are taught how to grow items such as chillies and brinjal,” he said.

Rashdan cited the soaring prices of onions and chillies last year to between RM12 and RM24 per kilo respectively as an example of the effects of disruption in the supply chain.

“If urban farming is carried out by every community nationwide, I am sure it will lower the cost of our imported food,” he said, noting the example of Indonesia, which implemented such a programme a decade ago towards self-sustainability.

He also hailed the project in Seri Perlis II in Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur, as a successful example of urban farming.

“The community has not only succeeded in growing their own edible greens but are even offering their produce for sale,” he said.

Rashdan, who is also the Kuala Lumpur Urban Farming chairman under the Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) programme managed by Kuala Lumpur City Hall, said there were grants of up to RM50,000 to assist registered urban farming projects, mainly in the form of equipment and infrastructure works.

“However, it is also crucial that communities are first properly trained on how to grow their own crops before providing the grants,” he said.

In August last year, the Housing and Local Government Ministry launched the Urban Community Farming Policy.

The policy serves as a guide for individuals or groups interested in pursuing such projects.

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