Crop Cultivation: Transforming Lives

Sisters Justah, 31, and Ritah Dahlan, 29, were among 19 participants of Planting Tomorrow from Kampung Pulutan in the interior of Sabah. Justah has two children and her husband works as a rubber tapper, while Ritah lives with their mother, who is also a farmer. They had been planting vegetables traditionally like the rest in their village until PETRONAS came into the picture in 2017.

(From left) Ritah and Justah now earn three times higher income by harvesting Bentong ginger.

The new programme introduced ginger cultivation to the villagers and it was a collaboration with Yayasan Sejahtera that lasted for about nine months.

The experts PETRONAS brought in, identified ginger as the most suitable plant for their soil. The local farmers were given seeds to sow on a large scale and were taught the right techniques for planting, including how to shorten the harvesting period. They were also advised to keep some seeds to plant in a nursery – a somewhat novel idea for the villagers.

With encouragement and some targets set for them, the farmers have changed the face of farming in their village and now grow ginger abundantly.

“With the help of PETRONAS, we finally have water flowing into the village through the gravity-fed system. Before that, we had to walk to the river, fill up our bottles and buckets and carry them back, three times a day – in the morning, afternoon and evening,” relates Justah.

Ritah further says that Planting Tomorrow opened her eyes to the benefits of working together. “Previously, we used to work on our individual land. Now, we help each other, and reap more profit. We also work faster together.”

They are now financially comfortable earning RM1,500 – RM3,300 a month from their ginger cultivation business, compared with their previous meagre earnings of RM150- RM500 – up to three-fold from before!