This blog was written by Azyani Mursidi, a Youth Environment Living Labs (YELL) intern.
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|Take a look at Maestro and Perimba’s adventure!
Inspiration & Ilham1
Blood, Sweat and Tears
What Can I Do?
“We want to address the most critical problem in our hometown which is waste, and particularly kitchen waste as nobody is concentrating on that.”Malini (27) on how Maestro was conceived.(1)
Inspiration & Ilham1
Jamuna (27), inspired by her mother and saw an upsurge in gardening as a hobby in her hometown at Mentakab, Pahang realised that organic fertilisers were limited and kitchen wastes were becoming more prominent. On average, the total Malaysian households produce 16,650 tonnes of food waste daily.
Knowing this, Maestro conducted a survey in Mentakab on the community’s awareness on the alternative disposal of kitchen wastes and 65% responded with “not aware”. This lack of awareness in the community paired with the scarcity of beginner-friendly fertilisers prompted them to create a coin-shaped, controlled-release fertiliser. Its delayed-release property makes it easier for consumers to use without much hassle.
Jamuna says “We can help them (the community) to make their own compost – it is natural, environmentally friendly, lessens the cost for them and can be a business for us.” There is an intersection between food waste and the need for organic fertilisers in the community, hence Maestro was ideated.
“Pembalakan haram terumatanya di kawasan luar bandar yang kini memang sangat teruk.”Zamre (29) on the plight of illegal logging activities near his kampung2 at Jalan Pasai, Sibu. (2)
In Sibu, Sarawak, Zaidi (24), Zamre (29) and Bryan (23) took matters into their own hands to protect their customary land from illegal logging by establishing Perimba. The project focuses on developing parts of the forest into a camping attraction to prevent threats of illegal encroachment into their customary land.
In hopes of raising community awareness and participation in protecting their forest, they want to provide young people with livelihood, capacity and skills through a community-based tourism project.
Motivated by their love of adventure-intensive activities since childhood and Sibu’s lack of aktiviti-aktiviti lasak3 attractions, they are keen to protect their forest by introducing activities they love like hiking, jungle trekking and recreational fishing.
Blood, Sweat and Tears
Maestro faced many ups and downs throughout their project. Firstly, with the group members being in different locations in Malaysia, this made it harder for the team to coordinate, making long-distance travelling and shortage of time a challenge, “like a long distance relationship” Jamuna says. Furthermore, they initially wanted to get a pellet machine, however, due to high costs and its scarcity, a coin shape was decided after many trials and errors, using a hand mould.
The households supplying the kitchen waste also did not give them an easy time as some were worried that it was going to be used for no good. A few also wanted a type of compensation – which Maestro provided. As a reward, Maestro provides in-kind rewards such as gardening-related items per 1 kg of waste.
Despite their struggles, Maestro was able to collect 50 kg of kitchen waste from 15 households in three residential areas. Maestro managed to obtain a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with SWCorp, hence 102 kg of brown waste consisting of twigs and dry leaves were supplied from SWCorp Temerloh in six months.
To further educate the community, a “Garbage To Green” workshop was organised to help those that need guidance in using their kitchen waste. Although this workshop largely attracted older participants, Maestro intends to reach out to younger people by going to vocational colleges.
“Normally, the first step will always be the toughest step but once we (take the first step), we can climb up everything”– Shan (29) on their social entrepreneurship journey. (3)
In five years, Maestro hopes that the community can enjoy pesticide-free food, and their operations can scale to accommodate kitchen wastes from restaurants, coffee grounds from cafes and vegetable wastes from pasar pagi4.
The team expressed that they would like to also commercialise their product to a bigger market such as putting it on the shelves of major hardware chain stores.
“Dari mula program lagi (ada) musim tengkujuh, kami nak progress pun susah. Kami terpaksa cari insentif lain, tengok saja cuaca okay, kami akan datang.”Zamre (29) on one of their biggest challenges during the project. (4)
In November and December 2022, heavy monsoon hits Perimba and the campsite entrance suffered an inundation (as in Figure 3). Clearing up the entrance pathway and campsite from dangerous fallen trees was tedious and inconvenient after every bad weather.
Despite the obstacles, customers enjoyed their adventurous stay – some suggested adding more activities, expanding the area so more campers can come and highlighting that a good “view” is important. Zamre also wishes to open up a homestay in the kampung2 to accommodate more tourists and for easier access to the forest in the future.
The 5-year goal for them, however, is to initiate reforestation activities in the area according to the appropriate tree species to restore degraded land. There is also the intention of collaborating with relevant forest protection agencies and academic institutions to do comprehensive research on sustainable reforestation strategies. Lastly, Perimba wishes to grow a garden with bananas and chillies in the area so they are not solely dependent on the campsite itself as their only source of income.
Figure 5: Jepai (Left) and Zaidi (Right) with their fish catch, close to the campsite.
What Can I Do?
If you were inspired by Maestro and Perimba’s stories, find out what Maestro has been up to at @garbagetogreen on Instagram. If you live near Mentakab, Pahang, see if you can also donate your kitchen waste! Looking to have a camping trip in Sibu, try to visit Perimba by reaching them at email@example.com!
A big thanks to the project members for telling their stories and sharing their photos!
Social Entrepreneurship Rural Youth (SERY) Programme:
SERY is a six-month start-up programme led by the Ministry of Youth and Sports that supports young people in rural communities in social entrepreneurship as a means of livelihood and community development. Through this programme, YELL partnered to seed-fund the project ideas that ranged from combatting wastage, preserving their land and educating their communities on sustainable practices.
- 1Ilham: Inspiration
- 2Kampung: Village
- 3Aktiviti-aktiviti lasak: Strenuous activities
- 4Pasar pagi: Morning market
Quotes (in English)
- (1) ”We want to address the most critical problem in our hometown which is waste, and particularly kitchen waste as nobody is concentrating on that” – Malini
- (2) “Illegal logging especially in rural areas which is getting worse” – Zamre
- (3) “Normally, the first step will always be the toughest step but once we (take the first step), we can climb up everything” – Shan
- (4) “From the beginning of the program (there was already) a monsoon, it is difficult for us to progress. We had to find other incentives, if we saw the weather was okay, we would go.” – Zamre