Help from housewives turns hobby into business

KOTA KINABALU: A farmer who tried her hands at herb and edible flower planting as a hobby, has since turned it into a source of income not only for herself but also a group of housewives.

Irene Mositol (pic), 31, now has more than 70 people in Ranau district who are in the business with her.

She would buy the fresh produce from local planters and diligently help in packaging, controlling the quality and marketing them on a larger scale.

Mositol recently won an award from a multinational company.

Sharing her venture into this business, Mositol said she had wanted to get into vegetable farming on a more serious note.

She said she was advised by officials from the multinational company to cultivate herbs instead since there was a high demand for these plants in the food and beverage sector but very few people were doing it in Sabah.

Mositol gave it some thought and decided to give it a try.

She began learning, step by step, through the Internet.

Then she bought potted herbs from another farmer in Kundasang and tried to get other varieties from other sources including supermarkets.“I did it as a hobby at the end of 2018 and only got serious sometime during the pandemic,” she said.

And it helped that the weather in places like Bundu Tuhan and Kundasang is cooler since they are located in the highlands.

Mositol said with more focus put in, she started seeing the potential and monetary returns, prompting curious housewives to ask about it.

They began growing such plants, starting with rosemary, thyme and oregano before expanding to edible flowers.

The fresh and dried herbs are packed nicely in bottles for sale.

As for Mositol, she now has over 40 types of herbs and edible flowers planted around her home.

She also manages her own processing house.

“I am glad that what I am doing is creating an economic impact for other women as well. As you know, the pandemic really hit us hard and many are struggling financially,” she said.

Asked about the challenges faced by herb farmers like her, Mositol listed out the weather and plant diseases, among others.

“In fact, we are dealing with a type of plant disease right now. We are trying to find local solutions to stop the spread of diseases that can affect the growth and quality of our herbs and edible flowers,” she said.

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