17 farmers who turned abandoned rice field into money-spinner

PASIR MAS: There is nothing slow about Kampung Slow Kulim in Bunut Susu if the joint achievement of 17 farmers are anything to go by.

About 10 years ago, a plot of 12ha in the village was lying idle and viewed as just another abandoned rice field.

However, the farmers must have seen the light at the end of the tunnel when they ventured into a project which involved planting a variety of crops such as honeydew (muskmelon), maize, vegetables and pumpkins.

Today, the farmers are grinning from ear to ear as the crops they cultivated diligently are yielding a monthly income of between RM1,800 and RM3,000.

One of the participants, Abdullah Yacob, 67, said the joint initiative yielded melon worth about RM150,000, followed by maize (RM40,000) and vegetable produce (RM30,000).

"Who would have thought that the area that was previously an abandoned rice field, within 10 years, after being cultivated with different crops, is able to generate income for us," Abdullah, who is also the group's head, told Bernama in an interview.

He said, prior to the project implementation with the cooperation of relevant government agencies and aimed at increasing the income of the people, the income of the farmers was inconsistent and even uncertain.

Subsequently, their water supply woes were solved by the Department of Irrigation which built a well to irrigate the agricultural area, while the Kemubu Agriculture Development Authority (Kada) and the Department of Agriculture also provided agricultural inputs and other services for the farmers.

"Now, we can be self-sufficient by buying the necessary farming materials such as fertilisers, seeds and insecticides, apart from paying for the cost of ploughing," said another participant, Mohd Johari Mohd Salleh, 47.

Meanwhile, a diploma holder from a private college, Sheda Mohamad, 27, who runs her family's small business producing traditional chips is planning to expand the business after receiving capital assistance and equipment from Kada as it will create more job opportunities to fellow colleagues.

Pasir Mas Umno division chief Datuk Hanafi Mamat said agriculture and agro-based projects were the focus of their efforts in improving the standard of living of the low-income group.

Hanafi, who is also Pasir Mas Parliamentary Constituency Agriculture Development Council chairman said there were several other agricultural projects that impacted upon participants in the constituency, including dairy and beef cattle breeding projects.

"We don't look at political affiliation in choosing participants as long as they are from the lower income group and want to change their lives ... then, we will help them," he said. — Bernama