| Izah Azahari |
UNITED Agri-Fishery Market Sdn Bhd (UAF) gathered a group of agricultural experts to initiate Project SAFE (Simple/Special Farm Enterprise) to help special needs people find employment. The project is part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme.
Harold B Raps, General Manager of Project SAFE, during a media event yesterday at Pusat Ehsan Al-Ameerah Al-Hajjah Maryam, said the project is based on studies of several models used in developed countries where special needs people are employed in the agricultural sector as full-time staff. The project kicked off in May through the support of investors and international experts.
The project is divided into three phases – Crop Feasibility, Planning of Training Material and Commercial Implementation. UAF has upgraded the Pusat Ehsan’s facilities to carry out crop feasibility studies on cherry tomatoes, rock melons and honeydews and established an agricultural training facility for those with special needs.
UAF is currently seeking experts with experience in special needs education to help assist in formulating training protocols and syllabus. The first two phases will be carried out in the training facility in Pusat Ehsan and the final phase involves the establishment of a commercial farm in Kilanas, subject to approval from relevant authorities.
The primary goal of Project SAFE is to open doors for those with special needs and providing them employment and independence. This was reiterated by Pg Datin Hjh Noraini Pg Dipa Negara Pg Hj Abd Momin, Executive Trustee of Pusat Ehsan and Hj Ahmad Hj Abd Rahman, Policy and Planning Trustee of Pusat Ehsan. They also hope to bring in students from other special needs organisations.
There are currently three students employed at the farm in Pusat Ehsan and seven others were identified to undergo training in October.
The media was told that there were programmes in the past where students were placed in different companies but they were unsuccessful.
“So, we decided to try agriculture and have it based at Pusat Ehsan so that they feel more comfortable,” said Raps.
“We anticipate that the authorities will support the initiative and the public will realise that special needs people can be productive when given the right tools and skill set”.
Raps said everything is grown organically and Project SAFE is seeking organic certification from Australia or Taiwan.
The public can contribute to the endeavour by purchasing the agri products or volunteer their services.
The first harvest of honeydew melons will be at the end of the month and samples of the products will be available at Pusat Ehsan’s 9th Charity Bazaar 2014 at the Indoor Stadium in Berakas.
For more information, contact the General Manager of Project SAFE at 8685801 or go to the office at No 8, BT Hj Uthman Complex, Lot 47405, Spg 13, Jalan Berakas.