Urban Agriculture: “JomTani” Non- Governmental Organisation
JomTani is a Non- Governmental Organisation (NGO) that aims to grow and further improve the development of urban faring through educating the farmers to insure self-sufficiency on produce in Sarawak within years in the future. In 2015, JomTani was founded as the issue and necessity of sustainable farming and agriculture was realised. With the realisation of said issue, JomTani has been dedicated to providing urban farmers with knowledge on urban agriculture via farming education as well as to growing the JomTani brand through a collaborative farming effort.
Despite the struggles during the early stages of farming, JomTani’s efforts have been well rewarded as seen by their achievements which includes:
- Innovating over 10 thousand square meter of land
- Reaping 20 tonnes of produce in four years
- Working with 95 stakeholders
Modernization and globalization of the food system, and subsequently the agriculture sector, have caused issues worldwide – be it political, ecumenical, social, or environmental (Islam and Siwar 2012). With that said, JomTani has become a platform for viable development to not only produce, but also provide food and food related services within Sarawak.
Key Stakeholders and Demographic
Those who have an interest in the program, project, or policy that is to be promoted, be it person, group, or organisations, are viewed as stakeholders in the progression. Thus, numerous actors involved in urban agriculture, be it directly or indirectly, are identified as stakeholders of JomTani.
- 20-70 age group
- Directly involved in the production
- Usually of the low income group
According to Baumgartner and Belevi (2001), urban farmers are mainly from the lower income groups in most developing countries.
Said urban farmers are usually females, moderately poor, and fairly long term citizens who are in the agriculture sector to grow food for self-consumption. However, there are also urban farmers who are better off and farm as a source of income on the side.
- 15-25 age group
- Younger demographic
- Interested in the agriculture sector
- Looking for a source of income
According to Bahaman et al. (2010), those of the younger demographic have an increasing acceptance in regards to farming and agricultural activities in general that can provide not only food but also a source of income for them. Although studies in the past have shown that those of the rural community have a higher acceptance compared to those from an urban background, recent research has opposed said findings. The younger generation, in Malaysia specifically, have started to build a positive outlook on working in the agriculture sector with better levels of understanding and knowledge.
- All age groups
- Mainly those in Sarawak
The consumer group includes the subsistence farmers that farms for self-providence of food consuming his own food, and also those who buy produce and food from local markets and street vendors. As JomTani aims to not only educate and help urban farmers, but also provide fresh produce to consumers, consumers are definitely a key stakeholder group for JomTani.
- Government organisations
- Government institutions
The agriculture sector of Malaysia is strongly influenced the public sector. Urban agriculture has been overlooked and neglected by the government in favour for manufacturing sector, oil palm plantation, and such. Thus, there has been a low performance of urban farming in Sarawak. With that said, there are also very little support, funding, and education for urban farmers by the government – which is an issue JomTani is trying to tackle.
The media sector is important in brand visibility, brand awareness, as well as shaping consumer’s image by delivering content and information to the public through different forms of media. Thus, although not of the direct market or target, the media industry is undoubtedly an important stakeholder group for JomTani to achieve their goals.
Due to the growth of the industrialization development, Malaysia has experienced an exponential economic growth. Malaysia’s economy has bloomed with the success and boom in the manufacturing sector in 1970. The increase from less than 20% to over 80% of export on manufactured goods in the early to late 90’s as well as the rise from about 13% to over 30% in GDP in the same time frame are prove to the rising economy of Malaysia (UNDP 2005).
Despite the many ups to the industrialization policy, the domination of the manufacturing sector has resulted in substantial decrease in agricultural land and green space. The Malaysia government has also continued to push the manufacturing sector in hopes of better economy and higher profit. Malaysia’s natural resources and productive land were made way to satisfy the demands for urban space and to serve industrial and settlement purposes. Thus, the contribution of the agricultural sector to export of Malaysia has drastically dropped from over 40% to less than 10% within the past two decades (UNDP 2005).
However, in recent years, the need for food security and the effects of logging, oil palm plantation and such has often been brought up. Thus, many government officials and political parties are now bringing attention to the importance of farming for food security.
The needs in Malaysia’s economy has always fluctuated in regards to shortage of labour, limited appropriate land, decreasing in rates of Malaysian Ringgit, increasing production cost, the prompt liberalization of agricultural trade. Thus, new challenges and issues have been brought up regarding the agriculture sector.
The Third National Agricultural Policy (NAP3) was formulated in the late 90’s with the aims increasing income through the best use of resourced in terms of agriculture. The aims of the policy is to ensure food security, increase productivity of the agriculture sector, to conserve natural resources, and to produce new sources of development for the sector (Ministry of Agriculture, 2000).
Women in urban agriculture has been paid little attention to. With important roles which are directly linked to urban agriculture, women actively contributing in ways of urban gardening for self and family consumption and also small scale businesses.
In a smaller scale urban farming, women can perform. Since women are often overlooked in the formal sector of agriculture, they are more likely to involve in small scale productions and projects (Baumgartner & Belevi 2001).
Biotechnology has developed into an influential technology with a huge potential for various economic sectors over the past few years, especially in the agriculture sector. The merging of powerful information technology with various new technology platforms have provided a better understanding of the biological makeup of humans, plants, microorganisms, and more at a molecular level. This enables the development of better approaches and strategies to face future challenges.
During the time period of the 7th Malaysia plan from the late 90’s to the early 00’s, major development has taken place after the success in establishing technical competencies and basic infrastructures. The establishment of the National Biotechnology Directorate further enhanced the operation of the agenda on biotechnology and the national initiative. The mission of the National Biotechnology Directorate is to lead the growth of biotechnology in Malaysia through research in regards to commercializing biotechnology (Daud 2002).
According to Ahmad (2001), legislations on environmental wellbeing and usage of land has been enacted in Malaysia.
- The conservation of hill land and protection form soil erosion under the Land Conservation Act 1960
- The protection, reduction, regulation of pollution and the improvement of the environment and others of the nature under the Environmental Quality Act 1974
- The management, conservation, and protection of forests and development of forests within Malaysian and other connected therewith under National Forestry Act, 1984
Urban farming can be said as an important aspect of the green infrastructure of the urban landscape. Urban farming’s importance of retaining and filtering rainwater, reducing levels of carbon dioxide and subsequently global warming, contributing to flora and fauna diversity, and more has been brought to light.
Natural resources are also put to good use with urban agriculture. The consumption and dependence on electricity, gas, land, and other non-renewable resources are reduced as a result of the shortening of travel distance of produce to the consumers. Thus, less wastage of transportation, refrigeration, and packaging.