Nat­u­ral and or­ganic

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Ecowatch - At Ki­vatu Na­ture Farm, stin­g­less bees are kept for their honey and bee pollen. By Wong

FROM African night crawlers to stin­g­less bees, Ki­vatu Na­ture Farm is lead­ing the way in or­ganic farm­ing – the crawlers re­fer to spe­cial earth­worms used to con­vert food or plant waste into fer­tile com­post.

As for the name of the farm, “Ki” means “there is” (in the Kadazan­dusun lan­guage), while “Vatu” means “stone”, as there was a quarry nearby be­fore.

This project un­der the Pa­cos Trust, which be­gan in 2012, aims to be a model farm as well as a train­ing cen­tre for com­mu­ni­ties.

Pa­cos en­cour­ages or­ganic farm­ing to boost the so­cio-eco­nomic growth of indige­nous peo­ples.

The farm also serves as a prop­a­ga­tion venue for var­i­ous tra­di­tional plants, flow­ers, veg­eta­bles and cit­rus trees – the seedlings are then sold to the com­mu­nity at low prices.

Al­most two acres (0.8ha) in size, the farm sits on an old, unutilised padi field lot be­long­ing to the mother of Pa­cos ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor Anne Lasim­bang.

To­day, the farm thrives with as­para­gus, pep­per, herbs, and var­i­ous veg­eta­bles and fruits. There are also aquapon­ics sys­tems (where cat­fish are reared in wa­ter tanks that ir­ri­gate plants like wa­ter spinach and herbs) and com­post­ing sites, as well as a stin­g­less bee farm that pro­duces honey and bee pollen.

“We had been talk­ing about go­ing or­ganic all this while, so the farm is a re­sult of that. We’ve seen a big im­pact on the com­mu­nity from it,” said Lasim­bang.

The main chal­lenge of work­ing with the com­mu­nity, she added, is chang­ing their mind­sets.

“That’s be­cause they are so used to their old ways of think­ing and do­ing things. Some eth­nic groups are more for­ward think­ing and want to learn new things but others take a longer time to change,” she shared.

The farm is also next to the Pa­cos pre-school, which has close to 100 chil­dren at present.

“It’s good for the chil­dren to be in touch with na­ture. We want to pro­mote healthy food for kids and self-suf­fi­cient farm­ing,” said Lasim­bang.

Ki­vatu also pro­motes var­i­ous prod­ucts pro­duced by the com­mu­ni­ties that Pa­cos works with – there are mengkuang (screw palm leaves) and bam­boo mats, or­ganic rice (grown at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu), pep­per, gin­ger pow­der and sago, to name a few.

One of the key ac­tiv­i­ties at the farm in­cludes mak­ing mud­balls from rice bran, yel­low clay soil and “good bac­te­ria” in EMS (ef­fec­tive mi­crobe ac­ti­vated so­lu­tion), to help clean up rivers. EMS is made with rice wa­ter, mo­lasses and ef­fec­tive mi­crobes.

The good mi­crobes in the mud­balls break down sludge and re­duce harm­ful bac­te­ria in the wa­ter, once the mud­balls are placed in rivers. One mud­ball the size of a ten­nis ball can last up to three months in the wa­ter. Three of these mud­balls can clean up one square me­tre of wa­ter.

The farm also makes nat­u­ral, or­ganic fer­tilis­ers us­ing fresh fish gut, mo­lasses and food waste (like veg­etable and fruit peels), thus show­ing how to cre­ate use­ful things from stuff that may oth­er­wise be thrown away. –

Li Za

Vol­un­teers mak­ing eco mud­balls that have ‘good bac­te­ria’ to help clean up rivers.

An overview of the Ki­vatu Na­ture Farm.

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