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The Framework of Urban Farming towards Enhancing Quality of Life in Malaysia

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This study aims to explore urban farming activities that could improve the quality life of B40 groups in Malaysia. At the end of the study, a framework of the quality life example (i.e social, economic, lifestyle and health) will be developed. This study has applied a mix method by combining three approaches including structured literature reviews, interviews and surveys. In first phase, a systematic literature has been done followed by the development and validating the research framework. Respondents for this study are among Malaysian citizens from B40 group that been selected on a voluntary basis. The framework was evaluated and validated by five experts and analyzed using Cohen's Kappa Coefficient formula. The framework consists of (i) individual factors which comprise the aspect of intention, capital, knowledge and skill; (ii) internal factors which comprise the aspect of farm, ecosystem, technology, methods and techniques; as well as (iii) external factors which comprise market, government support, resources and funding in terms of enhancing quality of life. The framework is expected to bring a paradigm shift in exposing Malaysians to improve their standard of living while promoting the development of agricultural innovations standing with developed countries.
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Int. J Sup. Chain. Mgt Vol. 9, No. 1, February 2020
520
The Framework of Urban Farming towards
Enhancing Quality of Life in Malaysia
Laili Farhana Md Ibharim1, Siti Aisyah Salim2
1Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris
2Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia
1laili@fskik.upsi.edu.my
2aisyahs@uthm.edu.my
Abstract— This study aims to explore urban farming
activities that could improve the quality life of B40 groups in
Malaysia. At the end of the study, a framework of the quality
life example (i.e social, economic, lifestyle and health) will be
developed. This study has applied a mix method by
combining three approaches including structured literature
reviews, interviews and surveys. In first phase, a systematic
literature has been done followed by the development and
validating the research framework. Respondents for this
study are among Malaysian citizens from B40 group that
been selected on a voluntary basis. The framework was
evaluated and validated by five experts and analyzed using
Cohen’s Kappa Coefficient formula. The framework consists
of (i) individual factors which comprise the aspect of
intention, capital, knowledge and skill; (ii) internal factors
which comprise the aspect of farm, ecosystem, technology,
methods and techniques; as well as (iii) external factors which
comprise market, government support, resources and
funding in terms of enhancing quality of life. The framework
is expected to bring a paradigm shift in exposing Malaysians
to improve their standard of living while promoting the
development of agricultural innovations standing with
developed countries.
Keywords- Framework; quality life; urban farming; B40
1. Introduction
A study by [1] revealed that by year 2030 more than 60%
of the world population will live in urban areas. The
growth of this population will put enormous pressure on
sustainable planning and management of urban regions [2]
which lead to few issues such as loss of greenfield,
increase of energy usage associated with commuter traffic
[3], reduction of fertile lands to deforestation, water
pollution, and the creation of peri-urban areas [4]. These
issues contribute to the weakening quality of life though
cities served as social progress and national economic
growth engine [5]. While cities swarm with environmental
problems, it is important to make the city environment
resilient, sustainable and a happy place to live in. The city
resilience depends on the city system’s capability to
conserve social and ecological functions [6] which
includes providing areas for rest and recreation, clean
water and clean air [7], healthy and locally grown fruits
and vegetables [8]. The motivation towards urban farming
varies greatly across the globe. In Malaysia, government
and urban citizens have touted the potential of urban
farming that help to buffer income, create jobs and serve
as a sink for urban waste. However, the research that
specifically discuss the relationship between urban farming
activities in improving the well-being of urban citizens still
remain unexplored. Motivated by the paucity of research
explaining this relationship, this study will investigate and
propose a framework that shows how urban farming
activities can elevate the well-being of urban citizen. The
process of examining this relationship will be done
through a mixed method which includes observations,
interviews and surveys. This research will be used as a
guidance in improving the economic status of B40 group
through urban farming activities.
2. Methodology
Due to the nature of research objectives and scope of the
research, this research will utilize a mixed method
approach which include strucutred literature reviews and
surveys at different urban sites in Malaysia. Further
discussion on the methodology of the research will be
provided in this section. In the first phase of the study, a
systematic literature review is conducted to investigate the
most topic that has been discussed in urban farming
research area especially that lead to quality life discussion.
The process of searching has been narrowed down into
few subject matters including urban farming system
activities, technology application and their use in the urban
farms and smallholder farming activities in Southeast Asia.
The keyword used for search is “urban farming in
Southeast Asia”.
This excludes any urban farming activities that not related
to Southeast Asia such as those found in China, Japan,
Taiwan, Korea and other countries. We also limit our
scope to the English literature but consider all studies in
exploring activities towards enhancing quality of life
through urban farming activities in Southeast Asia. Three
digital databases were explored to search the target
articles. These three databases sufficiently cover the urban
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Int. J Sup. Chain. Mgt Vol. 9, No. 1, February 2020
521
farming studies especially activities happened in Southeast
Asia.
The process of selection involves the search for the
literature sources, followed by three iterations of screening
and filtering. The first iteration process excluded the
duplicate papers between the three databases. The second
iteration process is screening the titles and abstracts papers
and excluded unrelated articles. The last iteration is the
process of thorough reading of the full-text articles. The
search was conducted in March 2018 using the search
boxes of Science Direct, Web of Science database and
Scopus. A mix of keywords that contained “smart
farming”, “home farming”, “town farming”, “city
farming”) on different variation and combined with the
“OR” and “AND” operators followed by Southeast Asia
countries (Malaysia OR Brunei OR Cambodia OR
Indonesia OR Laos OR Myanmar OR Philippines OR
Singapore OR Thailand OR Vietnam OR “Southeast
Asia”).
The exact query text is shown at Figure 1 below. The
process of analysing were done using Microsoft Word and
Excel formats. Further, the final set of articles was
categorized in detail using taxonomy. This taxonomy is
classified into several classes and subclasses. The text is
categorized according to the preferred author style together
with the collected data and related information are saved in
Word and Excel files. All articles are analysed from a
variety of sources in depth to give readers a
comprehensive look at the subject. Second phase of the
study will use the subjective approach through qualitative
research methods to generate in-depth and detailed
description on urban farming activities which include the
input, process and output.
The feasibility study is an important process in identifying
real phenomena in a study, particularly in planning the
methodology and developing the framework. In practice,
the feasibility study was conducted with observation,
survey and interview method. The observation was
conducted on several urban farming sites in Perak,
Selangor and Johor because these three states were
actively involved in urban farming [9]. The data collected
is in the form of video recordings, pictures and interviews
with site owners. The survey was conducted via online
survey. The survey aims to gain in-depth data on factors
affecting urban farming and its relation to the quality of
life. Forty people volunteered to participate in this survey.
After the improvement has been done according to the
systematic literature review, feasibility study and survey,
all of the data are collected and analysed by triangulation
and descriptive analysis to develop the final framework.
The third phase of the study is conducted to validate the
framework that has been identified in previous phases.
Five academic experts in the field of agriculture were
recruited as evaluators to evaluate the validity of the
framework. Cohen’s Kappa Coefficient formula was used
to validate the result. This analysis was crucial in
determining whether or not the expert evaluators agree
with the validity of the framework, so that the framework
can achieve its intended objective.
3. FINDINGS
Phase 1: Systematic Literature Review
The keyword in the scope of this study is “Quality of Life
through Urban Farming Activities in Southeast Asia”. The
initial query resulted in 851 papers: 17 from the Web of
Science database, 378 from Science Direct, and 456 from
Scopus. The filtered articles published until 2017 were
adopted in this research and divided into three categories.
In the three databases, the papers are filtered in three parts;
the first part, 2 papers were duplicated from the total
number of 851, the second part after reading the titles and
abstract, 761 were excluded from the number of 849, the
result become 130, in the second part of filtering process,
42 papers were excluded from the number of 130, the final
included 88 papers as shown in Figure 1.
Studies that provide the discussion on urban farming
benefits are immersed. For example, from the systematic
literature reviews, there are several past studies discussed
on the benefits of urban farming especially in elevating the
quality life of city dwellers. Thus, this section will provide
the review of urban farming activities. Despite numerous
benefits acquired from the urban farming activities, there
are also discussion from the past studies on the challenges
and disabilities facing from urban farming activities. For
example, the excessive use of animal fertilizers would
affect the properties of the soil. It is difficult to see how
animal fertilizer is considered a valuable source of crop
nutrients. Some fertilizer is not a soil nutrient and this has
caused damage to agricultural crops [10].
Some fertilizers also contain harmful properties that will
lead to many adverse effects on the environment and the
characteristics of the soil on the farm and production
efficiency as well as on the crop itself [11],[12]. The
excessive use of pesticide has led to the failure of pre-
harvest agricultural soils in many urban farms in Southeast
Asia. Pesticide residues affect consumers’ and farmers’
health, environmental pollution and restricted trading
opportunities. Farms which are close to railways, car roads
and industrial zones can be contaminated with heavy
metals such as lead, sulphur and nitrate. These toxic
materials will be transported to farms and cause a lot of
diseases [13].
Some organic waste is harmful and bring effects on urban
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522
Keyword:
(“smart farming” OR “home farming” OR “town farming” OR “city farming” OR “homegrown farming” OR
“home-grown farming” OR “urban farming”) AND (Malaysia OR Brunei OR Cambodia OR Indonesia OR Laos OR
Myanmar OR Philippines OR Singapore OR Thailand OR Vietnam OR “Southeast Asia” OR “South-eastern Asia”)
First download
Web of Science
(n=17) + ScienceDirect
(n=378)
+
Total papers
(n =851)
Scopus
(n=456)
=
Inclusion criteria:
1. Utilised studies conducted on technology applications and their use in smart farming.
2. Only English journal and conference paper will be selected.
3. Study cases involve several topics such as, monitoring system, IoT applications, water operations, urban farming
support livelihood, food security, disease-affected farms, chemical support, farm management and evaluation of
physical properties.
4. Focus on urban smart farming activities in either one or more of the following aspects (i) smart farming activities (ii)
small farmi
ng community (iii) technology applications use in farms in Southeast Asia.
Final set = 88
Title and abstract
scan
849 – 719 = 130
Screen out
duplication
851 – 2 = 849
= = Full text Reading
130 – 42 = 88
=
agriculture because it may cause crop and vegetable to be
damaged and render crops inedible [14], [15]. In Southeast
Asia, some plantations in urban areas use a large
proportion of nitrate fertilizers to increase the productivity
of vegetables. Vegetables and water may contain higher
concentrations of nitrates and may cause a serious threat to
human health [13].
Figure 1. Flow chart of study selection for systematic literature reviews
Despite the poor management of small farms in many
areas of Southeast Asia, there are few recommendations
that have been discussed in past studies. For example, it is
recommended that the local authority to establish a close
cooperation with the government to draft a protective laws
and regulations for open spaces farming. Such cooperation
contributes to the success of small farms, for example:
climate reporting, waste management, grain and fertilizer
supply and water management. This effort will facilitate
the successful uptake of gardening programmes [16].
encourage small-scale urban agriculture in buildings
leading to a sustainable economy [18]. In another study, it
also recommended that attention to be given in developing
and increasing the spread of small farms, advocacy
training and gardening and address issues that could hinder
the success of the home gardening inside the urban cites in
Philippines. A comprehensive policy is also required for
joint management in city authorities as cities become
larger, more ethnically diverse and with larger numbers of
the population [14].
Phase 2: Development of Framework
The construct of the framework is based on a library and
feasibility study that applied observation methods on the
site, interviews with site’s owners as well as surveys of
urban farming practitioners through an online survey. The
data collected then analyzed using data triangulation
method. The results of the data analysis are thematically
categorized as shown in Table 1.
Table 1. The construct of urban farming framework as a guide in elevating urban farming activities among B40 group.
Int. J Sup. Chain. Mgt Vol. 9, No. 1, February 2020
523
Construct Items Description
Individual
factors
Intention Intention refers to factors that drive and motivate practitioners to start urban farming. Survey’s finding shows that
majority of the participants state that the idea of urban farming was triggered by hobbies (70%), passion (63%) and for a
f food (55%).
Capital Capital refers to the initial source of capital which they are willing to invest in urban farming activity. Survey’s finding
shows that majority of the participants state that they use their own savings to start planting (70%). This is supported by
interview data from a respondent I have allocated RM 1000 to start planting by purchasing seeds, soil, fertilizers and
planting tools. This capital is sufficient because of the small area and I only grow vegetables that do not require
intensive care
”.
Knowledge
and skill
Knowledge refers to basic knowledge in cultivation while skill refers to competence in plant management. Based on
survey, experience gained from parents (65%), resource search through reading (70%), educational background like
pursuing agricultural subjects in high school (41%) as well as support from support group on social media (i.e:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/jomtanamsendiri/
) (35%)
Internal
factor
Type of plant Type of plant refers to a plant that is often grown by practitioners. Generally, the most commonly grown crops are
vegetables (88%), herbs (53%), flowers (50%) and fruits (20%). One respondent stated that "I prefer to plant plants that
can be used in cooking because they are organic and are guaranteed hygiene".
Ecosystem Ecosystem refers to farm structure, planting requirements and planting space. Majority of the survey respondents
conducted planting in open areas such as at the backyard and balcony (90%). This area was chosen because of its
balanced ecosystem in terms of lighting and ventilation needed by the plant.
Technology Technology refers to the use of alternative tools and innovations to assist cultivation. Based on the survey data, the
majority of respondents still used the traditional planting tools (88%). Some respondents used hydroponic (9%) because
of their narrow space. However, they are aware that there are some technologies that are mainly used for open space and
for use in markets such as vertical farming and aquaponic.
Methods and
technique
Methods and technique refer to how the practitioners handle their crops. Through the survey data, the majority use
weeding methods (70%), fertigation (65%) aeroponics (60%) and nutripot (45%). Regular monitoring is carried out to
prevent pests or diseases
that can damage the crops.
External
factor
Market Market refers to where this crop will be distributed. The majority of respondents stated that the crop is for their own use,
most commonly used in cooking (93%). They will give or sell it to neighbours and grocery stores nearby if they produce
too much.
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524
Resource and
funding
Resource and funding refers to NGO or government bodies that contribute to the growth of urban farming. In an
interview with the owner of the plant, I have received funds to expand my crop from the Department of Agriculture. I
use the fund to buy better fertilizers and equipment. "One lecturer said "I got a grant from an university after winning a
competition in the agricultural innovation category
".
Government
support
Government support refers to financial incentives, special training organized by government agencies such as FRIM, and
urban agriculture program by the Department of Agriculture (i.e http://www.agricmelaka .gov.my/program-pertanian-
bandar/). Survey data show that the majority of respondents know about the government's incentives (64%) and they are
committed to all forms of encouragement.
Quality of
life
Health Respondents stated that their health status was increasing (85%) because they had an organic source of food that was free
of toxic chemicals. With proper care, the nutrition of the crop is twice as good as that sold in supermarkets. Consumers
can enjoy vegetables that are free from harmful chemicals and poisons, have a good source of organic food and be
guaranteed good care and
enjoy their own crops while minimizing the impact on their health.
Social Respondents stated that their social status was better (75%). As a multi-ethnic country, the urban farming is also
important as it promotes the spirit of unity and neighbourhoods among the pluralistic society in Malaysia and contributes
to the well-being of the people and the nation. Urban farming with family members around the home can also foster
closer relationships with family members when gardening activities ar
e held together.
Life style Respondents said their lifestyle changes were better than before (77%) when they practice urban farming as a hobby.
Indirectly, farming activities can replace their exercise routine. This activity also educates the community to adopt a good
lifestyle, especially in environmental protection of the use of natural resources.
Economy Respondents stated that urban farming was particularly helpful to the B40 group in improving their family economy
(84%). This is because they can save money from buying groceries from outside as well as they can supply and sell their
product to grocery stores or supermarkets. These activities can also generate additional income for others and support the
local economy with local pro
ducts.
Figure 2. The proposed urban farming framework as a guide in elevating urban farming activities among B40 group.
These constructs are then integrated and formulated into a
framework such as Figure 2. Individual factors comprising
farmers' intention to undertake urban farming supported by
capital ability as well as the support of knowledge and
skills in carrying out urban farming are the key drivers for
urban farming activities. Furthermore, internal factors
comprising type of farm, ecosystem, technology, methods
and techniques which are technical aspects of urban
farming need to be complemented by external factors
comprising market potential, government support in the
form of training and programmes as well as resources and
funding in the form of financial and tools to help farmers
carry on more serious urban farming activities. As a result,
urban farming can have an impact on the quality of life,
especially in terms of health, lifestyle, social and economy.
Phase 3: Validation of the Framework
The validity of the frameworks have been validated by five
academics experts in the field of agriculture using a
checklist. The finding shows that two evaluators stated that
the framework shows strong relationships and relevant
constructs. Besides, it is easy to interpret by the general
public. Two evaluators have stated that the framework is at
a good level and suggest that the quality of life needs to be
studied comprehensively. Only one evaluator stated that
the framework was at a moderate level. The evaluator
suggests that items in each construct should be appropriate
in the Malaysian context and more specific. The mean
value of each evaluator for this framework is shown in
Table 2.
Int. J Sup. Chain. Mgt Vol. 9, No. 1, February 2020
525
Table 2. The result of Cohen’s Kappa Coefficient on
the Validity of Framework
Expert
Evaluator
Kappa
Value (κ)
Agreement
Scale
Expert
Evaluator
1
.85 Excellent
Expert
Evaluator
2
.75 Good
Expert
Evaluator
3
.77 Good
Expert
Evaluator
4
.58 Moderate
Expert
Evaluator 5
.83 Excellent
4. Conclusions
Urban farming is an important medium for maintaining
sustainability in urban areas. As the population of the
world grows, the process of urbanization progresses as
more people are expected to live in cities. By 2025, it is
estimated that 60% to 85% of the world's population will
be considered urban dwellers. In Malaysia, urban
population is expected to increase to 75% by 2020. Urban
farming activities can enhance the quality of life in terms
of health, economy, lifestyle and social status. This is
because gardening activities create an attractive and
healthy green environment. The findings from this study
show that urban farming can contribute to the availability
of fresh and nutritious food, reduced spending on food
bills, and direct access to a wide variety of food products.
The Malaysian government is fully supportive of this
activity. This can be seen from the formation of the urban
agriculture division under the Department of Agriculture
Malaysia in 2010 to encourage urban agriculture activities
to reduce the cost of living of the urban population. Given
that urban farming has the potential to gain momentum in
Malaysia, it is important to implement appropriate
strategies to ensure the availability and affordability of
safe and healthy food, promoting such food production in
urban areas as well as enhancing the quality of life. The
contribution of the city to the availability of healthy food
and nutrition for the citizens is one of the most important
assets while providing a source of income and income for
the practitioners especially for B40 group.
Acknowledgement
This paper is based on the research project titled Exploring
Determinants towards Enhancing Quality of Life through
Urban Farming Activities. The authors would like to
extend their gratitude to the Research Management and
Innovation Centre (RMIC), Sultan Idris Education
University (UPSI) for the Regional Cluster For Research
and Publication (code: 2017-0054-106-61) that helped
fund the research.
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... Apart from being a means of early education for children (Chenarides et al., 2021;Khan et al., 2020) during distance learning activities, encouraging women's participation (Azunre et al., 2019;Khan et al., 2020), and creating biodiversity (Galimberti et al., 2020), this green space effort can realize sustainable urban development (Adidja et al., 2019;Ibrahim & Salim, 2020;Khan et al., 2020;Li et al., 2020b;Yusoff et al., 2017). It was different from before the pandemic, where urban agriculture was dominated by working family and a larger number of household (Chenarides et al., 2021). ...
... This assessment did not differentiate the results from male and female respondents. This provides opportunities for the development of Makassar as a sustainable city (Ibrahim & Salim, 2020;Li et al., 2020b;Yusoff et al., 2017) through agropolitan development. It is expected to increase the income of the community, especially that of the middle to the lower class (Zezza & Tasciotti, 2010). ...
... Meanwhile, millennials can develop urban agriculture with more modern technology, such as hydroponics and verticulture techniques (Lal, 2020;Martin & Molin, 2019), so that the stereotypes around farming such as being messy and dirty can be reduced. Thus, it is hoped that fresh (DiDomenica & Gordon, 2016;Grebitus et al., 2020), healthy, and nutritious local food (Benis & Ferrão, 2018;Ibrahim & Salim, 2020) will be available during the pandemic and after the pandemic. ...
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