Thursday, May 15, 2008

The Impending Economic and Food Crisis; what are we doing about it IV

gambar dirembat dari orang punya flickr site.

When I was a kid, my late grandmother Ros told me that people who lives in the hilly country where she came from, Java, Indonesia ate maize meal, not rice. Because they dont grow rice.
Now it makes sense. Rice is not cheap, and not everyone can afford it.

My late Grandma Ros had a plot of rice field in our village. When she was able, she never failed to go to her sawah. She like that rice variety called Malinja, because it tasted better than other varieties. She also have a small section set aside for late maturing pulut (sweet rice), the black and white variety.
Pulut white, she cooked for breakfast, eaten with hot coconut milk or roasted coconut. High cholesterol diet, but we worked hard back in the old days, by 10am you will be hungry if you work in the rice field, especially during harvest.
Pulut black, she set aside to make tapai and wajik (that sweet rice cake) that you get at kenduri kahwin. Tapai pulut and wajik were sweet treats indeed.
These days we cant grow pulut because they take about 6 months to mature, when rice season nowadays is only 4 months, so we bought them at the shop if we need them.

She had the padi stored in a hut next to her house, it was at least 2 meters from the ground, and not connected to any other building or tree, to deter rats. The surplus rice would sold to the farmers cooperative. She always dry her padi in her yard (halaman) before selling.
I remember my Uncle Mustakim complained that when the padi is dried, it weigh less. My Grandma lose money because of this, because the farmers cooperative deduct a percentage for wet padi.

My father dont have a rice field. But some years he made an arrangement with my auntie who owns 1.5 acres of rice land to work the season and get half of the harvest. So I also have the experience helping my father grew rice and harvesting. Most of the time my father just buy rice at the shop. We supplement our rice needs with ubikayu (tapioca), corn, keledek, keladi breadfruit and bananas.

Now that the nation cannot get enough rice at cheap price, I dont see why we could not supplement our rice requirement with tapioca, potatoes, corn, keledek, keladi and bananas. Those plants doesnt use much water like rice does.

READ THIS report in Malaysiakini of suggestion by ISIS director general that we should diversify our food. BUT the key here is PRICE.

No point asking Malaysians to diversify their food intake if the price of alternatives are much higher than rice.

SO instead of begging other nations to barter their rice with our palm oil, we should make contingency plan to grow corn, potatoes, keledek, bananas and what ever else on our idle lands. Corn and potatoes only take 3 months to mature. Keledek only takes 6 months.

The time to act is now.

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