Friends of the Earth Malaysia/ Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM): Agroecology
In Malaysia the ‘Green Revolution’ introduced agriculture based on intensive cropping and chemicals. This has had detrimental health and environmental impacts such as degraded soil and water quality, increased risk of crop pests and diseases, chemical residues on food produce, and health risks to farm workers, their families, consumers and livestock. FoE Malaysia works to support farmers to use low-cost, chemical-free sustainable farming methods. This includes projects on composting, vegetable and herb gardening, nurseries to reintroduce native tree species and seed banks. Communities are growing native tree species along customary territories which has also helped to mark boundaries of villages.
One project worked with 3 villages in the Baram District of Sarawak to support them to grow gaharu saplings (a type of resin wood) for communal forest reserves and as cash crops. New saplings will also then be shared with surrounding villages. Their work has a particular focus on women through their home gardens project which supports women who have vegetable plots near paddy fields, plantations, commercial vegetable gardens and in the urban areas. It also supports women’s traditional knowledge by working with communities to label medicinal plants and record their uses and benefits.
As a result there is increasing interest among indigenous communities to learn about natural farming methods to use these techniques in their farming of food products.
Degraded forests have been rehabilitated which has prompted the return of wildlife. Encroachers and trespassers have stayed away from customary territories with boundaries that are well marked with native species. At least 4 villages have nurseries of medicinal plants accessible to them near their longhouses and many are learning the uses and benefits of these medicinal plants in their daily lives from community elders.