Despite Sabah celebrates Kaamatan festival every year, which is related to rice, but most of the people especially youngsters never experience cultivating paddy at the fields.
Covid-19 pandemic is a wake-up call that Sabah needs to work harder towards “feeding ourselves” as for now three quarters of our rice is imported from other countries.
This year the communities of Tinuhan and Lapasan Ulu in Tenghilan decided to change this and launched a Paddy Project to restore rice production on 40 acres of village lands.
They partnered with Kivatu Nature Farms (KNF) to combine restoring traditional rice farming skills with learning new organic and agricultural techniques, especially the famous “SRI” (System of Rice Intensification) method that increases yields, decreases costs and lowers the methane emissions that cause climate change.
Ten vocational students from the School of Experiental Entrepreneurship Development Sabah (SEEDS) are chosen to join in the learning and teaching process under the watchful eye of master trainer Maria @Mamamoi Lasimbang from KNF.
SEEDS is a program of Guwas Koposizon College (GKC) established by the PACOS Trust to serve underprivileged youth and enable them to learn practical agricultural, entrepreneurial and life skills in a boarding environment at Lomunu.
Before the recent surge of Covid-19 cases in Sabah, those students from Penampang and Kota Belud had went to Tenghilan every 10 days to work , learn and teach in the fields alongside the local villagers.
In addition to students from Sabah, the GKC is privileged to host a group of Orang Asli Temiar students from Gerik in Perak.
In addition to learning about rice and innovation, this project enabled young indigenous people from around Malaysia to learn about each other in friendship and respect, finding much stewardship in the gotong royong and when eating fresh durian together afterwards.
The Padi Project is a collaboration between the Tenghilan communities and Forever Sabah, KampOng Campus, Dept of Irrigation and Drainage, Jabatan Haiwan and others, and with a special grant for COVID recovery from Yayasan Hasanah.
Statement and pictures courtesy of FOREVER SABAH