Leap of faith results in an organic farm that is the envy of many

Posted on: 24th February 2013

The Star

Saturday January 19, 2013

<b>Proud of it:</b> Cheah at his farm.

WHEN Cheah Chee Cong told his friends that his dream was to own a vegetable farm, everyone laughed at him for being unrealistic.

However, Cheah, who had no previous experience in farming and knew nothing about agricultural management, was not surprised when he faced such reactions from his friends.

“Having a dream means having the courage to achieve it and turning that into reality,” he said with determination.

His journey to pursue his dreams started two years ago when the then 23-year-old and his brother travelled to Singapore to make a living and managed to earn some money.

He quit his job after that and headed to an organic farm in Pahang to learn about organic farming.

“Regardless of what people think, I went on to pursue my dreams, I did not even tell my family as they would have disagreed with my decision.

“I understood that my parents wanted me to land a stable and secure job. But I had my own dream of building an agriculture empire,” Cheah said.

Despite having zero experience in agriculture, Cheah’s perseverance paid off.

At the farm in Pahang, Cheah had to learn the basics, from growing vegetables to cooking a decent meal.

“The crop depends a lot on the weather. Sometimes I needed to work under the scorching sun or during a heavy downpour.

“It was difficult at first and I had a hard time getting used to it. But all arduous tasks seemed possible when I remembered I was bringing myself closer to achieving my dream by learning the skills of organic farming.

“After getting lessons in organic farming for half a year, I felt I am equipped with all the necessary knowledge. However, sharing a conversation with another experienced farmer proved me wrong and the things I learnt were just the tip of the iceberg. Organic farming is not as easy as I had expected,” he said.

Thus, Cheah often went over to the farmer’s vegetable farm to gain more knowledge.

“He was not very well educated, but knew a lot about the ways of life. He had more than 10 years of experience in farming and had learnt valuable lessons from mistakes,” Cheah added.

He still faced a lot of problems despite the amount of help he received.

“Organic farming tends to become more and more complex as the vegetables are constantly affected by harmful pests and diseases,” he said.

Cheah also mentioned that Yoshio Yoshimura, an experienced Japanese figure in the agricultural sector, had visited his organic farm.

Yoshimura has been involved in organic farming for more than 40 years.

He also shared some of the problems often faced in organic farming and taught Cheah a lot of effective techniques in organic farming.

Curious about Yoshio’s arrival and advice, Cheah approached Yoshimura and asked him why he had given him guidance instead of others.

“I was captivated by Yoshio’s reply when he described me as someone who has a ‘pure heart’ in organic farming. It is very pleasant and it changed my perception towards organic farming.

“Since then, I began to understand the wonders of nature. The presence of harmful pests is mainly due to the disease that infected my plantation,” he said.

Since then, Cheah often gladly invites Yoshio to his farm if he happens to drop by Malaysia just to share knowledge in organic farming as well as bridging the gap between two countries.

To enhance communication and learning with Yoshio, Cheah also found himself picking up the language from a Japanese language tutor.

What delighted him the most is his parents now understand his passion for organic farming and accept his career

“My parents have seen results for the past one year and they are fully supporting me. It is indeed something to be happy about.

“Now, I consider this as a small success as there is still a long way to go to achieve greater heights. The landlord will acquire the land in six months and I will need to find other land to achieve my dreams,” he said.