Two indicators of genuine transformation are ownership and self-development. We see these, not just in the Orang Asli farmers at Kg Ulu Gumum where the OA Organics eco-farm project is, but a group of Orang Asli at Kg Melai.
At Kg Ulu Gumum, there are now 32 farmers! The success of the 2-acre land started in December 2015 spurred others in the village to develop their own land. Mini farms were replicated and more family members joined the eco-farm project.
At Kg Melai, which is a 20-minute drive from Kg Ulu Gumum, we see a group of Orang Asli with a strong sense of ownership and self-development to do well. Having heard of the success of the eco-farm, they approached the OA Organics team for help. The team was invited to Kg Melai to share on organic farming and fair market. Ten villagers even took the team to inspect a piece of land to assess its farming suitability.
Next, the Kg Melai Orang Asli visited the Ulu Gumum farm to do a study tour. They interviewed the farmers and asked many questions. Masenah, one of our older farmers, took it upon herself to share her experiences with the prospective farmers. The Kg Melai folks went home inspired, and with some seeds and spinach cuttings generously given by the farmers.
Since the study tour a month ago, six budding farmers have tested growing the seeds. Ah Meng and his wife (pics), for instance, experimented and successfully grew the spinach cuttings. Having gained more confidence, these new Kg Melai farmers are now ready to scale up their farm. They have cleared some land near the swamp river and have asked for seeds and further training. They look set to make this a serious livelihood strategy!
It’s a real joy to see the Kg Ulu Gumum farmers taking ownership, developing their farming skills and charting their own destiny. And even more encouraging, they are also helping to develop those who ask them for help. They are becoming their own agents of change, and this is transformation! And we hope to see the same in the Kg Melai Orang Asli as they venture into sustainable organic farming.