Malaysia: Going organic pays off well

ruben sario The Star 18 Dec 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Going organic is paying off for a group of padi farmers near Mount Kinabalu whose produce is fetching up to five times more than regular rice.

Farmers like Senuil Darosin are selling their organically-grown, unpolished or brown rice for as much as RM15 per kg at tamu or traditional markets, and there is strong demand for it.

Senuil said switching to chemical-free cultivation methods by the farmers at Kampung Tambotuon, near Mount Kinabalu, has seen crop yields increasing as well.

“We are harvesting on average about three tonnes of padi per hectare and this is so much more than before we went organic four years ago,” said Senuil, the Kampung Tambotuan Village and Security Committee chairman.

He said the planting season was usually towards the end of May while the harvest was in November or December.

“We still harvest the traditional way, using the linggaman (a type of knife),” said Senuil, adding that the padi is milled to obtain rice at the village itself, which is about 100km from here.

Launching a gotong-royong (community effort) to harvest the padi last week, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin said the switch to organic cultivation methods was the right move because of increasing demand for such produce.

“More people are now looking for agriculture and livestock produce that is chemical-free because of health concerns,” said Yahya, who is also the state Agriculture and Food Industry Minister.

He said the site near the mountain would also attract visitors not only for its scenic location but also those keen to learn how padi is cultivated.