Everything You Need To Know About Urban Farming In Malaysia

We have to admit, humankind has done serious damage to Mother Earth. We all know it’s our home, the only one we have. Have we been treating it well? Nope.

Obama has spoken.

The damage done has contributed to severe climate change. From the unpredictable weather, ice caps and the shocking ways it affects other beings (ie. the disturbing scene of a walrus falling to its demise in the Netflix documentary ‘Our Planet’) shows the alarming state of our planet.

But as we live and learn, many of us are finding out ways we can curb and hopefully reverse the damage we’ve done. One solution? Urban Farming.

What is Urban Farming?

An urban farm

Saqib Sheikh, Manager and Co-Founder of Urban Hijau describes Urban Farming as agricultural practices that are suited to urban environments. This includes growing plants and raising animals within and around cities.

Urban farming differs from rural farming because it’s integrated into the town’s ecosystem.

Some urban farmers raise livestock too

“The fundamental difference with rural agriculture is that urban farming caters to special town or city ecosystems with their specific population systems. It is not a new phenomenon, but in many countries, especially in Southeast Asia, it has a long-standing tradition of urban farming in the cities.” Saqib says.

The links include the use of urban residents as labourers, use of typical urban resources like organic waste as compost, direct links with urban consumers and being part of the urban food system.

Why is urban farming important?

According to RUAF Foundation, rapid urbanisation is taking place which causes an increase in urban poverty and urban food insecurity. Most cities in developing countries have great difficulties to cope with this development and are unable to create sufficient formal employment opportunities for the poor. They also have increasing problems with the disposal of urban wastes and waste water and maintaining air and river water quality.

Growing fruits in your backyard is possible with urban farming

Saqib adds that almost one-third of the existing arable land is used for livestock. “On top of this, mechanized agriculture methods of the past century have actually degraded the quality of the soil worldwide and may lead to a crisis in the coming decades as quality soil becomes in short supply. Given this situation, to ensure food security in the future, urban farming has an important role to supply to supplement rural agriculture.”

What are the important factors for Urban Farming? 

How can we nurture our green thumb?

Saqib mentions that urban farming often depends on space and resource limitations in the urban environment. He adds: “As space is a premium, methods such as vertical gardening, aquaponics and rainwater harvesting take advantage of our existing spaces to derive harvest. It also employs intensive farming which looks for companion planting techniques to get high yield from a small area.”

Urban farming also requires a great deal of community engagement and the passion and determination of a core team who can cope with the demands of the city and connect their farm to the local residents. The human factor is very important.

How will Urban Farming benefit us and the environment? 

Urban farming is a critical component cited by the UN in their Sustainable Development Goals towards making urban areas more self sufficient and reducing the level of damage to the earth caused by conventional agriculture. It can inspire communities to come together and take ownership of their local environment, connect back to the earth and be custodians of our future.

In the long run, urban farming may be able to reduce urban poverty and the lack of food. It also plays an important role in enhancing urban food security.

Economically, urban farming contributes to local economic development, decreasing poverty alleviation and social inclusion of the urban poor and women in particular, as well as to the greening of the city and the productive reuse of urban wastes.

What are the simplest ways to start urban farming and where can we go in malaysia? 

An urban farm set up at a home

The term may make it intimidating, but urban farming can be done easily, even at home. Most people set a goal of growing 10% of the food they eat in their own residence. Saqib says that you can start at any existing indoor or outdoor space you have.

“You may begin with easier plants such as herbs before looking towards more difficult plants. From home, you can look to spaces allocated by the local resident council or DBKL that are unused, and seek permission for converting them into urban gardens with the help of like minded fellow residents,” he adds.

If you’re interested in getting starting your own little farm, these are some of the places you can head to:

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