Everything can wait, but not agriculture.” - Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India.
For centuries as technology and industrial advancement starts to take on the main stage of progress, the agriculture industry has succumbed into large corporation control; resulting most of the foods around the world are heavily dependent on imports-exports; and consumers have conditioned into food dependent through conveniences off the shelf.
As of August 2019, Malaysia itself has spent RM34.2b importing food, of which RM4.6b are vegetables, RM4.1b are fish and crustaceans, RM3.9b are fruits.
Such product and services economy ecosystem can be ideal until crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic happens; where movements become restricted and logistics becomes a problem. Stock market crashes, fiat weakens while stock pile, particularly food, prices increase due to scarcity, and such dilemma brings nothing but stress, worry and panic just to put food on the table.
COVID-19 in a way is a great awakening for all of us – where nothing stays the same forever. You may not easily get what you need easily in terms of fresh food, and even if you do, the possibility of obtaining one with its nutrients still fully intact would have been low.
Even without such pandemic, due to most fresh produce are from a central inland farm, by the time the food reaches the aisle the nutrients on the fresh produce particularly the greens would have depleted much, moreover easily expire; and this has driven more Malaysians resolve their daily hunger pangs through fast food or under nourished food that usually is preserved with excessive sugar and sodium, resulting a recent study of 24.9% of women of reproductive age have anaemia, 11.4% of adult men have diabetes, compared to 10.7% of women, last but not least, 17.9% of women and 13% of men have obesity.
Furthermore, Malaysia is facing another health challenge particularly for younger ages; where more young children are developing heart disease at a younger age compared with other countries. In 2015, an estimated 48% of Malaysians aged 18 and above have high blood cholesterol.
Such readings have brought us to a crucial question: How can we ensure our future generation’s health and survival with such ill-provision of nutrients on our foods?
PWD Smart Farmability is committed to scaling up nutrition for Malaysia, beginning with making fresh, nutritious food available for the vulnerable of the most vulnerable group – the need-off-assistance group – OKU (Orang Kurang Upaya) among the B40 and below under privileged households.
Most of these households are unable to obtain the freshest greens that can be a key source of recovery for their family member with health challenges because of their financial struggles, resulting of these households are under nourished as a whole.
The H.O.P.E Box
Through our research and development we have recently successfully created our world’s first Organic Vegetable Terrarium. Imagine being able to enjoy organic vegetables planted in an enclosed terrarium that is designed to self-sustain with minimal watering for 3 months in nutrient-dense soil, 100% protected from pests & diseases.
We have been receiving good reports from backers of this project who tested on our produce. Not only it helps them to save a lot more, they were able to compare the astonishing difference compared to store-bought nutrient depleted vegetables.
Furthermore, the H.O.P.E box also has enabled us to create job opportunities in the agriculture sector for the disabled through our organised training, enabling disabled individuals to be a part of a contributing society in their local community.
At this point we are working towards becoming officiated as a social entrepreneurship by Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC).
Our Vision for the Future
In partnership with the Malaysian government and various NGOs in Malaysia, we hope to improve our food security for the public by bringing live and fresh vegetables as close to homes as possible; forming localised farming support for small communities – championed by trained disabled farmers as their main food provider