SDAC-Ford continues support for Orang Asli empowerment

KUALA LUMPUR: Sime Darby Auto ConneXion (SDAC), the sole distributor for Ford in Malaysia, recently reaffirmed its commitment to the empowerment of Orang Asli communities through a second collaboration with Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Malaysia.

This time, the joint effort focused on supporting GPF’s OA-Eco Farm programme in four Orang Asli Villages in Kuala Rompin, Pahang.

The OA-Eco Farm programme is a food farming initiative that aims to enable self-sufficiency and sustainable income amongst Orang Asli families.

It provides hands-on training and coaching, and subsidies such as tools and seedlings.

Backed by a generous contribution of US$10,000 (RM45,745) from Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, 22 staff volunteers from SDAC joined forces with the GPF team to visit the three villages on 9 March.

They brought donations of seedlings, farming equipment, kitchen tools and a healthy dose of enthusiasm and energy. Volunteers also worked closely with the Orang Asli community in one of the villages, assisting them in installing solar-powered equipment for their fencing system.

They also helped cultivate the land by loosening soil, cutting grass and making plot lines before planting the biomass crop seedlings.

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“Global Peace Foundation has been making significant strides in their efforts to empower the Orang Asli community. Their mission aligns perfectly with SDAC’s commitment to corporate citizenship and community development. We are proud to continue our partnership to make a greater impact on the lives of the Orang Asli communities,” said Turse Zuhair, Managing Director of Sime Darby Auto ConneXion-Ford.

“COVID-19 has exposed the severe food insecurity faced by the Orang Asli population. Deforestation and land encroachment worsen the situation, leading to severe malnourishment and food shortages. Food security is critical to building resiliency,” said Dr Teh Su Thye, CEO of Global Peace Foundation.

OA-Eco Farm programme: from farm to market

Key challenges of food farming in Orang Asli communities include limited resources to purchase seeds, seedlings and farming tools, and environmental challenges such as droughts and soil that is hard and dry.

Predominantly hunter-gatherers, training in sustainable farming techniques to manage soil health is essential for success.

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Known for its dedication to supporting communities by fostering resilience and cohesion, GPF launched the OA-Eco Farm programme to address these challenges. This initiative not only enhances the livelihoods of the Orang Asli community but also promotes sustainable practices and environmental conservation.

The programme adopts a holistic farming method called Syntropic Farming that revitalises the ecosystem and regenerates the soil to ensure food security and sustainability.

In addition to training, coaching and subsidies, the foundation has created an online marketplace for the Orang Asli farmers to generate more income from their farming activities. Hosted on GPF’s website, the marketplace, which is called Kebun Amai, features various fresh fruits and vegetables and even artisanal products from the farmers and their families.

Since its inception, GPF has worked with more than 70 villages to provide access to clean water, energy, sustainable livelihood and education.

“We would like to express our gratitude to Sime Darby Auto Connexion for always committing to their contributions to the society,” said David Jeffrey, executive director of Ford Asia Pacific Distributor Markets and South Korea.

“At Ford, we want to be not only a provider of quality vehicles, but we strive to build a better world, where every person is free to move and pursue their dreams and that includes our efforts to care for the society we operate and help them grow sustainably. Through the perseverance of SDAC, we are able to make that happen.”

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