Alicia Ng Bags The Professional Fellows Alumni Impact Award For Malaysia
Ng, who is based in Kuching Office, Sarawak, is the first Malaysian to receive the award. She received the award from Deputy Assistant State Secretary for Professional and Cultural Exchanges at U.S. Department of State Ms Susan Crystal during the last day of the three-day Fall 2019 Professional Congress held in Washington D.C on 22 November. The other two recipients are from Tunisia and Myanmar.
The AIA recognises exceptional contributions made by Professional Fellows Programme (PFP) alumni to their communities. Ng is an alumna of the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) PFP for Economic Empowerment cohort under American Councils for International Education. In spring 2017, she completed her fellowship in Arkansas for four weeks, focusing on organic and sustainable agriculture and conservation activities which are related to her work in WWF-Malaysia.
The attachments gave Ng new knowledge and confidence especially on best management practices in agricultural activities. “When I applied for the programme, I wanted to look into methods used in organic farming as the American organic certification is recognised by many countries,” she said.
Her interest was in rice since one of the projects that she is actively involved in WWF-Malaysia is sustainable rice farming in Ba’ Kelalan. Thus, she was placed in Arkansas, known as the natural state and the rice country of America.
Ng said, “It was definitely the most suitable place for me but unfortunately organic rice farmers are planting on thousands of hectares and not suitable for small scale farmers in Ba' Kelalan. However, the new knowledge on vegetable farming has truly opened-up a whole new opportunity which I could apply professionally and personally.”
“Planting chemical-free vegetables has been much easier for me at my backyard. It helps me at work too because WWF-Malaysia works with more indigenous communities in Sarawak now, and all are looking into sustainable and organic vegetable and pepper cultivation,” she added.
WWF-Malaysia’s sustainable rice farming has seen success stories since July 2017. That year, the organisation took on a new direction to extend the Department of Agriculture (DoA) Sarawak’s efforts in System of Rice Intensification (SRI) farming method. SRI is proven to increase yields, reduce the usage of water and is chemical free.
The project also constantly seek advice from SRI expert Captain (R) Zakaria Kamatansha who founded SRI Lovely Organic Valley in Kedah. In 2018, the project started off with 12 farmers from Long Langai in Ba' Kelalan but has now expanded to the neighbouring village, Long Lemutut, with the number of farmers now increased to 27. Long Langai farmers have experienced increase in rice yield, spurring other farmers to also adopt the SRI farming method.
As the next step, Ng shared that “More than 10 farmers from Long Langai have submitted their MyOrganic applications and are currently going through audit and assessment by DoA.”
Under the YSEALI programme, her host in Arkansas, Chris Hiryak were awarded a reciprocal follow-on project in 2017. Chris travelled to Kuching and Ba' Kelalan to conduct free training sessions on organic vegetable and fruit farming for Ba' Kelalan farmers. A talk on organic farming for urban farmers was held in Kuching, jointly organised with DoA, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Morganic Farm.
Outside of work, Ng has been a volunteer for many years, with a local animal rescue organisation, Save Our Strays Kuching (SOS). Her love for animals has seen her dedicating efforts with her close friends to rescue strays from the streets and putting them in temporary shelter under the Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate and Rescue (TNVR) programme. Ng and her animal lover friends also started the "Artinsia for Paws" to raise funds for SOS Kuching by selling handmade products made by women throughout Sarawak.