KUANTAN: Flower farm owner K. Periasamy has been supplying fresh flowers to florists throughout the country for almost four decades.
However, the 70-year-old's chrysanthemum flower business in Kuala Terla, Cameron Highlands, is facing a bleak future after excavators from the Land and Mines Office (PTG) begin to demolish the farms situated along Sungei Ichat here on Monday.
To make matters worse, he was only allowed to watch from a distance as the road to his farm had been cordoned off while
excavators tore the green house at his farm.
Periasamy, who operates the farm with his sisters, said his farming business has come to a sad end and none of his family members will have an opportunity to "play with soil" on the farms in the future.
"This is critical and no one expected our farms to be destroyed. I had bookings to supply flowers for the New Year,
Ponggal (harvest festival) in January and Valentines Day, but I will not be able to meet the orders.
"Sadly, the farmers are not allowed to go into their farms to collect their belongings, dismantle the greenhouse or at least
harvest the vegetables. We were given too little time and now we do not even have a second chance.....we worked so hard and everything is gone in a single day," he said when contacted today.
Periasamy said the state government's move will only result in some of the farmers becoming bankrupt as they will no longer be able to earn an income to pay their debts.
"A majority of the farmers have loans with Agrobank (agricultural development bank), study loans to repay (taken for children) and house commitments. What about parents who are preparing their children for the new school term? Those affected are left helpless.
"This has been our only ‘periuk nasi’ (source of income) for several decades and even some of our children have returned
to help their elderly parents at the farms after completing their tertiary education.
“The country has always emphasised on boosting the agriculture sector but this type of incident (demolition) has occured in our backyard," he said.
He claimed that the farmers decided to withdraw the court injunction which they had earlier filed at the Kuantan High Court assuming there will be an amicable solution.
"We thought the state government was willing to resolve our problem by providing us with an alternative site to relocate but
a meeting with the farmers never happened.
"The farmers are now praying for a miracle, hoping the authorities will show some mercy and provide us with a solution ahead of the New Year as some of us appear to be lost," he said.
Meanwhile T. Ramachandran, 45, who operates a 2.4ha vegetable and chrysanthemum flower farm in Kuala Terla, said he was busy trying to salvage whatever he could from his farm.
"The excavators came in early and started working here. Time is precious so I need to check if there is anything I can rescue from my farm," he said as he disconnected the call.
The duo are among 60 farmers whose smallholdings will be demolished under an enforcement operation, dubbed Ops Lestari 2, which is jointly carried out by PTG and the police.