Experiencing farm life in Kampung Tanjung Parang
APPROXIMATELY 1.3 BILLION TONNES of food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted.
With our project – ‘Why Waste Food?’ – we hope to sensitise the public about the issue of food waste.
We are in total five exchange participants (EPs) from various countries: China, Indonesia, Pakistan and Switzerland. We are participating in this project organised by a student organisation called AIESEC, based at University Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).
This project will include several activities: filming a documentary, conducting workshops in schools, writing newspaper articles about our experience and sharing our feelings through a blog (kuchingaiesecers.wordpress.com).
We spent a week at Chang’s Fruits Supplier, a farm in Kampung Tanjung Parang in Kota Samarahan to document farm life and show all the effort and resources invested in food production.
The farm belongs to Chang Kueh Kiong, but we call him Uncle, and his wife, Auntie. They take care of this family business together along with their son who helps them after school. They grow different fruit and vegetables, for example watermelons, wax apples and ladyfingers, and also produce honey.
All members of the project shared a big room next to Uncle’s house where we ate, slept and spent the day. Auntie would cook delicious Sarawakian delicacies for us three times a day with the products from the farm and region. She even showed us how to prepare traditional desserts and would sometimes let us help prepare the food.
On the farm, no food was wasted: what was not eaten during one meal was served in the next. When the weather was pleasant, we would go out on the fields with Uncle or Auntie and they would explain to us exciting facts about food production.
They showed us how to harvest ladyfingers and how honey was produced. Throughout our experience on the farm, we felt lucky to be able to live with the local people and discover fruits and vegetables that we could not find in our own countries.
It was interesting to find out what happened to Uncle’s products after they left the farm so we went to Stutong Market to meet one of his important buyers in the region. He is a wholesaler of vegetables and fruit, which means that he sells products in large quantities to further retailers.
He explained to us that products that weren’t sold at the market were given to temples or to public welfare organisations or even to charity. If the products did not meet regulation, they were used to make fertilisers or as feed for cattle or other animals. He also said that fertilisers, seeds, and other production materials were really expensive nowadays.
During our stay at the farm, we learnt how long it took to grow fruit and vegetables, how many hours the hardworking farmers put in just one day, how much water and other resources they used, and what difficulties they had during crop growth.
Now we know that it is quite painstaking to be a farmer, especially in tropical regions, where crops are highly prone to pest attacks. Farmers have to invest a lot of money, time and effort into food production, this is one reason why one should be careful and not waste food.
AIESEC is the world’s largest youth-run organisation, present in 124 countries worldwide. Focused on providing a platform for youth leadership development, AIESEC offers young people the opportunity to participate in international internships, experience leadership and participate in a global learning environment. AIESEC is run by young people for young people, enabling a strong experience to all its stakeholders.
AIESEC has 64 years of experience in developing high-potential youth into globally minded responsible leaders.