FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Malaysia

Malaysia: CASE 17 -- Closed-loop and sustainable “Smart village” in Malaysia: the case of Rimbunan Kaseh

Rimbunan Kaseh is a rural village located in Pahang, Malaysia, that has been transformed into a smart village to set an example of sustainable development and poverty alleviation. This project is a collaboration of researchers at the New York Academy of Sciences and the Malaysian Government. It addresses the need to improve living conditions for the rural poor in Malaysia and the agriculture sector, the main economic activity for this group.

The area around Rimbunan Kaseh used to be a swamp where no crops could grow, but now it is a high-tech self-sustaining village. It was traditionally inhabited by low-income families, providing jobs and a place to live. The accommodation in this village has been transformed to house families in 100 energy-efficient homes at affordable prices. The houses are prefab and mounted on sites allowing for their completion in about 10 days, costing between USD 16 000 and USD 20 000 each.

The village follows a closed-loop agricultural system, providing food and work for the villagers. The system interconnects the different components of food production. Greenhouse and hydroponic agriculture are the principal revenue streams for the villagers.  Aquaponics is crop production in symbiosis with aquaculture. For example, tilapia fish are produced in a four-level aquaculture system containing algae and guppies. The fish are a protein source for the residents, the algae and guppies feed the large fish and wastewater from the fish tanks is used as irrigation to grow fresh produce. Fish waste serves as a fertilizer for the vegetable crop.

The villagers use the hydroponic system to grow vegetables in individual pots. These pots are watered and fertilized using humidity detectors that deliver precisely the quantity of water or fertilizer needed. A three piece plastic pot with smart valves can filter water and nutrients when the plant needs them thus using the minimum amount of water and fertilizer. The valve automatically detects soil moisture levels and water requirements. This makes the project successful because people do not need a high level of education or knowledge about different crops. It is also suitable for poor people with low literacy since it is easy to learn. Greenhouse production does not remove the use of pesticides but minimizes the amounts needed. Any food waste is then used as poultry feed.

“The villagers use the hydroponic system to grow vegetables in individual pots that are watered and fertilized using humidity detectors that deliver precisely the quantities needed. A smart valve can filter water and nutrients when the plant needs them thus using the minimum amount of water and fertilizer. The valve automatically detects soil moisture levels and water requirements.”