KUALA LUMPUR: The coronavirus outbreak has made a profound impact on us. The actions undertaken by the Government to implement restriction control to combat the spread of the virus, while necessary have stirred up certain concerns among the community, especially on food supplies.
However, it seems not to be the case for Mutiara Magna community, where their one acre of a community garden has been described as a saviour to them during this predicament situation. The community garden has helped those vulnerable by providing fresh local vegetables ranging from pegaga, to bok choy.
Mutiara Magna Urban Community Garden is an urban food garden located at the riverbank of Keroh River in Kepong. Established in 2019, the community garden is managed by the Kawasan Rukun Tetangga of Pangsapuri Mutiara Magna under the River of Life Public Outreach Programme Phase 5 (ROLPOP5). Before its establishment, the area used to be a squalid and deserted riverbank filled with weeds and bushes and illegal parking spot and workshop.
“It is not much, but it helps to sustain the vulnerable families as some of their monthly income are affected during the movement control order,” said Zuredisham Zulkefli who is responsible for the garden as well coordinating the distribution of the vegetables.
He added “With the night markets and morning roadside markets closed due to the movement control order, it is difficult for us to get fresh vegetables. The community garden is a life-saver for us.”
In Klang Valley, vegetable supply to wholesale and wet markets are affected as the workforce is limited and the markets are only open only at limited hours to curb the spread of COVID-19 virus.
Dr K. Kalithasan, ROLPOP5 Project Manager who is also an expert in river and waste management from Global Environment Centre said “The idea of establishing an urban community garden near a river is to create an ecosystem that reconnects community and river that will eventually nurture ownership attitude to care for our rivers.
The current COVID-19 pandemic that led to the country implementing movement control order (MCO) underlines the importance of food security. Community garden or edible garden is seen as one of the ways to overcome food shortages apart from developing a resilient community and connected society with the environment.”
He hopes that the government agencies and private sectors will encourage and support more community to build community garden along riverbanks as to encourage local food production and provide relief in the event of food supply disruption as well as to protect and care for rivers. This is also to encourage societies to come citizen eye of their rivers by monitoring the river health.
Under the Ministry of Federal Territory and Department of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia’s River of Life Public Outreach Programme, three successful community gardens have been established. They are AU2 Community Garden, Seri Terengganu Community Garden and Mutiara Magna Community Garden. In urban areas all around the world, vacant lots, backyards, rooftop buildings are turned into food or edible gardens to sustain communities and reconnect with nature.