It its bid to offer a platform for the public, especially young talents to showcase their creative works, TVS features its first entry, an article by Abigail Lim Hui Xian of Taylor’s University of School of Media and Communication.
MY task to unravel more of the Malaysia famous Harum Manis mango breed took me to the Northern-most state of Malaysia, Perlis.
I was supposed to meet Mr. Zairul and his partners at their mango orchard. The three partners were already waiting for me at the entrance of their orchard when I arrived. “Hello, good morning Mr. Zairul and friends,” I greeted them with a big smile. “Am I late? I quizzed. “No, no. You’re not. You’re just in time,” replied Zairul with a smile. He and his friends then led me into the orchard without wasting much time and I didn’t want to miss any detail in this much awaited trip.
“I hope it doesn’t rain today, or else the quality of our mangoes would be affected, and all our effort would be wasted,” said one of the partners, while the other looked upon the blue clear sky and replied with assurance, “I bet it won’t. Look at the sun, it’s greeting us with one dazzling smile!” The three friends meandered through the mango trees in their orchard and targeted one area with their harvesting process. It was finally the season to harvest their fruits after waiting for 56 days. As they were unwrapping the papers around the ripened mangoes from the trees, they prayed that the premium ‘Harumanis’ mangoes would turn out flawless.
Sweat trickled down the farmers’ cheeks as time passed; the mangoes collected were sufficient and ready to be sent for the fermentation process. The Harumanis mangoes would finally be ready to be served after 2-3 days of fermentation.
Zairul mused at the time when he wanted to embark on his dream as a business owner. “It was a tough decision to make as I had to let go my steady income and walk on an indefinite path. I have mouths to feed, and I just had to be sure that I am doing the right thing.” His support came in the form of his good friends who are now partners and owners of Dimensi Agro Jaya, a Harumanis mango orchard in Perlis.
His story started with a thought of building his own orchard after working for five years in the poultry industry under someone. “It had always been my dream to have my own business. How long can you work under someone, right?” asked Zairul hopefully. The partners decided on Harumanis plantation as it is native and only available in Perlis. They realise that with good knowledge and proper guidance from the right place, they can succeed. Armed with enthusiasm and will power, Zairul and his partners approached the Department of Agriculture, Perlis for advice.
Department of Agriculture is the absolute ‘go to’ place for one with agricultural concerns. The officials have always been helpful and welcomes anyone who need advice and support in the field. Zairul and his friends were fortunate enough when the officers explained and guided them through the knowledge and processes of looking after the orchard. Having the back of Agriculture Department gave Zairul more confidence to drive his ambition.
He was in luck when he found someone who wanted to sell off his orchard. Without wasting time, Zairul and his friends looked for ways to gather the amount needed. “It wasn’t easy,” Zairul commented. “Lucky for us, our family supported us. We sold whatever we could sell to gather the fund and bought over the orchard.”
The orchard needed plenty of work when they bought over the land. The trio did not waste time and started working on their land straight away. Zairul wanted to make things right from the beginning and the three partners shared the same vision, ‘Good Agricultural Practice.’ For this, Department of Agriculture held the solution, ‘myGAP’ certification.
‘myGAP’ endorsement is a holistic good agricultural practice that ensures excellent quality products through efficiency, safety, consistency, and healthy processing of the crops. This practice has allowed Malaysian farmers to expand into the export market and increase rural communities’ incomes. This aspect attracted the Dimensi Agro Jaya owners, and they immediately grabbed the opportunity offered by Department of Agriculture. The initial year was tough, and Dimensi Agro Jaya focused on replanting the Harumanis mango trees and resorted to trading mangoes as their mangoes were not ready. 2021 is Dimensi Agro Jaya’s Harumanis mango harvesting year and they are elated by what they reap.
“This plant needs a lot of care and pampering,” laughed Zairul when asked on his biggest challenge looking after the orchard. “I don’t even spend the amount of time I spend in my orchard with my wife!” his laughter continued. From his expression, one can easily guess the effort and care that goes into managing Harumanis mango orchard as it requires patience, hard work and dedication.
Besides that, another of his challenges was IFR, which stands for Insidious Fruit Rot. This is when the exterior of the fruit looks fresh but turns out to be rotten on the inside. When customers receive these mangoes, the company will take the initiative to immediately send new fruits for them to consume. This proves that they take quality control very seriously.
Zairul carries an optimistic and upright attitude towards all these challenges faced, “No matter which sector you’re in, you have to build a motivation in your heart and be clear on the type of person you want to be while carrying your duty in your job. If you want to be the best worker, you got to focus till you become the best; if you want to be the best farmer, you got to focus till you become the best”. He also added that as an entrepreneur, risks were everywhere to be seen, but again, with optimism, he said, “You could choose to handle the risk, or let the risk handle you. If you choose to handle the risk, you have to be both physically and mentally strong to cross over all the obstacles faced.”
At dusk, the sun slowly bid the three farmers goodbye, and left a sky ablaze with golden yellow for them to enjoy. The three farmers smiled at each other as they looked at the plantation of their “Golden yellow beauty” (a nickname for the Harumanis mango) with much satisfaction – patience, hard work, and dedication, does pay off.
“Now we finally get to have a rest for the next 9 months after these 3 months of sweat and tear!” uttered Zairul’s friend. Wait, Did I hear it right? shocked I turned to look at Zairul and saw him laughing. “Do you mean that you don’t have to work anymore after these 3 months? Is the income sufficient to cover your expenses throughout the year?” I could not resist but raised my doubt. The three of them looked at me and gave a content smile. “More than enough!” said Zairul. “Thanks to the Department of Agriculture’s myGap endorsement, we are able to increase our selling price and gain satisfying income.” He looked at me for a while and added, “Most people may not realise our earnings, but in fact, it is possible, especially with the help from the Agriculture Department.
The agriculture industry is actually a great platform for youngsters to venture in.” I stood there amazed by what I just discovered as I heard them shout, “Come join us lah!” Well, I just might!
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of TVS.
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