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Friday, 15 June 2012

Reaping rewards from hot crop grown at home

ALOR SETAR: There seems nothing outstanding about a double-storey terrace house in Lorong Kelompang here.

But take a closer look and you will see leaves from rows of chilli plants on the balcony of the house.

Although the view from below only shows about 15 chilli plants, there are actually 260 of them along the 15.2m-long balcony over the front porch.

The plants are a source of extra money for house owner Eang Ah Seng, 72, as well as a way to keep fit.

Passionate farmer: Eang harvesting chillies on the balcony of his house in Lorong Kelompang, Alor Setar, yesterday.
Some of the plants are in plastic bags while others are in rows of pots that Eang and his wife Kee Mei Choo, 70, painstakingly hauled up from below using a bucket.

Eang said the chilli plants were planted about three years ago.

“At first I planted them in front of the house but flash floods and pests damaged them. I then moved the plants to the balcony and they have been there since,” he said.

Eang, who owns a fruit orchard in Changkat Jering, Perak, said he got the chilli seedlings from there and decided to plant them at his house here.

The father of nine children aged between 30 and 50 and a grandfather of 16 with one great-grandchild, Eang said he had worked as a farmer for about 40 years.

Although he has left his fruit orchard in Perak in the care of his workers, he still plants small plots of vegetables at his house here.

“I extended the balcony from about 1.2m to 15.2m about seven years ago. At first, I planted bitter gourd and long beans. Later, I switched to chilli,” he said.

Eang said he collected the chillies five times a month and sells them at several wet markets here.

He also sends some to his daughter, who operates a restaurant in Butterworth.

For each harvest he collects about 17kg of chilli and sells them at RM15 per kg.

Taking care of the plants has provided him with much needed exercise.

“I tend to the plants each day including watering and trimming them. This act is a good exercise by itself,” he said.

Eang said besides farming, he is also involved in construction.

“I renovated the balcony myself. I have also done construction work for friends,” he said.

Kee said her husband has been passionate about farming since they got married.

Initially, they lived in Tunjang where Eang planted vegetables to support the family.

“He has no serious illness and farming keeps both of us busy every day,” Kee said.