Four young men have joined as trainees in May. Its encouraging to see that the young men are coming in as it may reflect that they see some hope in farming as a viable livelihood strategy. The yields have increased to RM9,000 in May FROM RM4,000 in February. They have now learnt to grow 15 types of crops. The farm planting spaces have increased to 1.4 acres and a greenhouse.
We have changed our irrigation pipes to PE pipes from the flat tape pipes and fitted aerators to oxidise any heavy metal in the water to prevent particles from forming that will clog the drippers. However, the drippers still clog up and this is creating stress for the farmers as they don’t seem to be able to get enough water for the farm. They feel demoralized especially when what they plant die for lack of water. Water pumped to the tanks are getting less efficient and the water problem is demoralizing the team. Finally, the OA farmers worked out a temporary solution and inverted the drippers such that the water could drip to the plants.
Some young people have come to join the farm in contract work. However, many are not catching the vision of owning their own farm. They appear more content with finding quick money to spend and one is more ready to send his young wives to work whilst he remain non committed to earn a living for their family. The young men look particularly lost and appear to have lost hope in finding a real solution to their marginalization. They don’t appear to have the determination and resolve to push forward. This is a serious problem which requires further understanding.
It may be that they are not able to see that the farm can accelerate their path of sustainable livelihoods. Or that the path requires time , discipline and determination and this is a path that they find difficult to journey through the pain of the learning curve and development of consistent daily work disciplines. The other factor is the easy going lifestyle and parents are indulgent in not encouraging their children to be enterprising and independent. We find that for men, marriage is a motivating factor. Once married, the pressure is on to take responsibility and earn adequate income for the family. And the pressure is increased when children are born. Nevertheless, the process of developing work disciplines and ethics is a huge challenge and is all the more so when they have little history of prolonged and sustained daily work. These young people are becoming a lost generation . They cannot survive with their forest as it is diminished but neither can they move forward with education for many of them don’t do well in school. They are caught in the middle. They cant go back and neither can they move forward. In this state of frustration, they will be turning to cheap alcohol and become more lost.