By: Azman Zakaria
SERDANG, March 16 - A chili fertigation project by a group of 15 Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) students not only helps to supplement the income of rural folks but also land them to two awards at the Kongres Duta Jauhar 2.0 recently.
The students won a gold award (third place) under the Overall Best Programme category and the Best Agriculture Transformation award at the four-day congress held at Universiti Tun Hussein Onn (UTHM), Batu Pahat, Johor which commenced on February 24.
A total of 22 groups representing public and private higher institutions of learning presented their respective projects during the congress.
UPM student group from Persatuan Kebajikan Anak-anak Johor, with the cooperation of UPM Agriculture Faculty implemented the Benut Agricultural Transformation Scheme (BATS) project under Duta Jauhar programme by cultivating chillies using fertigation concept.
With the help of Johor Pontian District Office, the group was able to identify an idle land of about ¼ acre at Kampung Parit Abdul Rahman, Benut, Pontian, to plant green and red “Cili Kulai Varieti 461.”
Third Year Faculty of Agriculture Bachelor of Aquaculture Agriculture student, Mohammad Ezaifuddin Sanip, who is also BATS programme deputy director, said the students with 12 villagers started clearing the idle land in early September 2015 after the construction of a bridge to enable machinery to be brought to the nursery.
They also made available 600 polybags for fertigation, in addition to water pipes and tanks for irrigation and fertilization.
Through this concept, coco peat from coconut husks is placed in polybags as soil replacement. Cultivation of chillies in polybags were carried out in stages, starting from a plot involving the use of 300 polybags in early October, 2015.
Mohammad Ezaifuddin said harvesting which was done at the end of December, 2015, had brought about good incomes to villagers involved in the project.
He added that a plot of land using 300 polybags could yield a revenue of RM780 a month if the chillies were sold at RM6 per kilogramme. The price of chillies could go up to RM12 per kilogramme, thus bigger returns for growers.
“Our aim is to encourage the villagers to carry out modern farming on their own, this is our way of helping them to better their livelihood.
“After all, the works involved were quite easy – after the installation of water pipes and tanks for irrigation and fertilization, those involved only needed to work about 15 minutes daily to check on clogged pipes, if there were any” he said.
He added that the BATS project at Kampung Parit Abdul Rahman was monitored regularly by the Agriculture Faculty to make sure that the project could be continued.
“Feel great that we were able to help the villagers, they can now work on their own after starting from scratch,” he said.
The Duta Jauhar 2.0 programme, mooted by Johor Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin and handled by Johor Education Foundation, is aimed at enhancing the economic standing of Johoreans. – UPM