A MISSION that commenced last year to teach Orang Asli to grow their own food has borne fruit in Pahang.
Global Peace Foundation (GPF) members have taught 38 families to become self-sufficient, in six villages in Rompin and Pekan.
As a result, these Orang Asli families are growing many varieties of fruits and vegetables for themselves.
Rowena, an Orang Asli villager in Pekan, Pahang, said she is now able to feed her children healthy vegetables and fruits, thanks to the organisation’s food farming programme for the Jakun community.
“I feel good now that I have a farm. I don’t have to go out to buy vegetables anymore. I can just walk to my farm and pick my own vegetables.
“We definitely save some money,” said the mother of three in Kampung Cenodong.
GPF CEO Teh Su Thye said his organisation started studying the challenges faced by the Orang Asli in August 2020.
“After working and learning with them on pilot farm plots, we officially kickstarted the OA-Eco Farm programme in six Orang Asli villages in November 2020,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
He said the programme provided the villagers with hands-on training and guidance as well as tools and seedlings.
The villagers learnt to mulch, manage pests and more, so that by the end of the lessons, they had transformed patches of bare soil into flourishing farms filled with vegetables and fruits, Teh said.
Contrary to popular belief, Orang Asli are not natural farmers. They are hunter-gatherers.
Deforestation and land encroachment have made it difficult for them to feed themselves, causing their children to become severely malnourished.
The Orang Asli are also one of the most impoverished communities in Malaysia. As odd-job workers, many of them struggle to make ends meet during the Covid lockdowns.