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Going organic in Buayan

Coffee produced by one of Buayan’s farmer.

Paddy is one of the proposed organic product for Buayan.
Joe Suleiman

Percy Goliu

PENAMPANG:  Kampung Buayan, one of the 10 jungle villages along the Salt Trail of Crocker Range, can be the next Sabah organic hub with the introduction of the integrated Organic Farm, which has already identify about 20 farmers as pioneers of the project.

The other jungle villages are Terian, Longkogungan, Kalanggaan, Kionop, Pongobonon, Tiku, Babagon Laut, Timpayasa and Pataan.

The project has identified three main crops as the focus of the organic farm which are hill paddy rice, coffee and exotic fish of the Pelian or Empurau species. Other crops that will also be organically farmed are wild vegetables or simply called ‘sayur kampung’ such as avocado and takob-akob and ginger to be given the booster too.

Community development leader unit for Moyog, Joe Suleiman said this is his brainchild as he sees using traditional methods to produce organic food are not only very sustainable but also healthy.

More people nowadays are into consuming foods that are free from chemical.

The project, he said, is akin to killing two birds with one stone. Helping the government to provide enough food for the people and at the same time providing the opportunity to gain more income for the farmers.

“I like to go to the jungle. That is the best place to look for clean and chemical-free vegetables and also to hunt for squirrels,” he said jokingly. Joe likes to do live stream in Facebook under his tag ‘Jalan-jalan Cari Bosing’ while delivering his message of environment preservation.

According to him, he chooses Kampung Buayan as the focus for the project because the area is rich in minerals as it is located deep inside the Crocker Range forest. The forest there is still intact as it has not been exploited for any commercial crop such as timber and palm oil. Integrated control farming is suitable in Buayan in order to maintain the natural and unpolluted environment of the area.

Buayan situated 20 kilometer in the eastern part of Penampang District in the middle of the Crocker Range Park. It was once famous salt trail between Tambunan and Penampang. The land area is stretched along the Papar river.

He said his team has already organised meeting with the villagers to get them involved in small, medium and large scale integrated farming and has identified at least 20 potential villagers as pioneers to start the project.

“Once it is settled, we will try to get financial aid from the various government departments, agencies, corporations and even private entities to help them,” he said while acknowledging the fact that people are more health conscious  these days and that they don’t mind paying more for food that are free from chemicals. 

Hence, he said the government should help with the project because organic food fetched better price and are more lucrative.

“Selling this product is not difficult because people already know what organic food and its benefit to the body. Moreover, Buayan is located quite near the Penampang well-known traditional market of Tamu Donggongon.

There are many shops and supermarket who are willing to provide space for these organic food,” he said confidently.

He said that for many years the community in Buayan have been cultivating wet and dry paddy for their own consumption using the traditional way albeit not using the pesticide and weed killer. The people there have been producing organic rice all this while. Recently, some villagers have started cultivating other crops such as ginger, lemon grass and chillies using similar methods. 

But Joe emphasised that they want to introduce ‘Kopi Buayan’ in a big scale after a villager managed to successfully market coffee that are grown in Buayan which is gaining popularity in Penampang.

“We want to develop it further to make it as number one coffee in Borneo or even within the region of BIMP-EAGA. We want to create a team and equip them with knowledge on coffee so that when it is ready, we can enhance the production and market it under the name – Buayan Coffee.

“The people of Buayan are basically farmers and hunters. They are quite versatile in the jungle and riverine. They are skilled in looking for sayur kampung and freshwater fish. With their natural knowledge of the jungle combined with their and tightly knit community, I think they can enhance it to another level if they are given training and other related skills,” he added.

Another focus, he said is the rearing of pelian and emparau fish, which Buayan is known for.

He said, they will have to establish a team to carry out a study on how Buayan can be the biggest producer of the pelian fish. Apart from the fish itself, the species can be always be turned into an  added value product such as salted fish like how Sarawak made famous their delicious salted fish ‘terubuk.

Currently, there are more than 300 people living in Buayan, who mostly comprised the Kadazan and Dusun ethnic group. If succeeded, the team will expand the project to other jungle villages nearby.

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