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National Food Security: Kickstart Your Horticulture

By Stephen Ng

When politicians talk about National Food Security, there is often more talk than action.

To show that we walk the talk, I believe it is time for us Malaysians to start doing something about food security in the country.

In the event of a war or a pandemic like what we had experienced recently, food cannot travel across the borders. If we are already in the habit of planting our own greens, we will be more prepared for the tough times.

To kickstart this, my daughter took the initiative to grow her first batch of bean sprouts. A packet of mung (or green beans) costs about RM3, but we only used a third of it to grow the bean sprouts.

This was, after all, at the experimental stage after I taught the children in my creative writing class about national food security.

For one week, my girl had to water the beans twice a day. That was all that she had to do. Her first harvest was on Day 5. Since then, we have been having a regular harvest of bean sprouts that we use for our dishes.

Because the beans grow at different rates, for just one ringgit, we were literally able to harvest our home grown bean sprouts daily for an entire week.

Here is a video that will help kickstart your own venture to grow your bean sprouts at home:

Another easy plant to grow is the papaya tree. If you happen to find a papaya that is very sweet, make sure that you keep the seeds.

As you would do with the mung beans, soak the papaya seeds in water for 24 hours to allow the roots to sprout.

Then, plant the seeds in your house compound. You will be ready to harvest your papaya after slightly over six months. In front of our home, we have two Hawaiian (dwarf) papaya trees which have been bearing fruits.

The first batch of fruits were distributed to neighbours, and the rest of it, we have been enjoying for the past two months.

I am pretty sure that there are many other types of vegetables that can be grown easily in the backyard. The seeds can be easily available these days in small packets.

For a few years, we have discarded nearly zero food wastes as these wastes are great composting materials which can be used to fertilise the soil.

We have, in the past, tried several composting methods including bokashi (which can be rather expensive), but finally we decided to just dump the food wastes into a pail to allow the insects to act on the materials.

Once the pail is covered tightly to keep the pests away, it becomes a natural habitat of its own with plenty of food for the insects to digest on. After a few months, it is time to feed the compost to the plants.

With this, I wish to encourage all of you to do something about our food security in the country. When you are already in the habit of planting your own greens, you will feel a sense of accomplishment.

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