ALOR GAJAH – Facebook (FB) has proven to be an effective social networking tool for an ornamental yam plant entrepreneur and her fan.
In a win-win situation, their virtual interaction resulted in an unexpected and positive turn of events, transforming their lives for the better.
Touched by Amira’s comments on her FB at the end of 2020, Rozita Haron decided to give away a yam seedling to the mother of three, who later used it as capital for her yam business.
“I knew Rozita through FB since last year. I am a fan of ornamental yam plants and used to watch Rozita’s followers buy the plants from her,” shared Amira, when contacted by Bernama at her house in Maran, Pahang.
Amira said she was inspired by Rozita’s zealous determination to run the business, especially after losing her job at the end of 2020.
She later took the courage by asking her the price of a plant, which is said to be precious and expensive, especially exotic species such as ‘keladi kayangan’ (Colocacia).
“After being told of the price, I told her I was genuinely interested in the plant, but could not afford to own one. To my surprise, Rozita offered to give her Lime Gecko species for me to grow. Alhamdulillah (Praise to Allah), with her guidance, I managed to grow and breed the seedling, which was used as capital to start my ornamental yam business,” she said.
Amira, who works as a grocery shop assistant, started to sell the ornamental yam plants from the middle of last year, and since then, she managed to sell between 20 to 30 yam plants from the caladium and colocasia species.
“I only grew the plants around my house but they are enough as supplementary income to raise my children. To date, I am still learning about the plant especially in ensuring that it meets the market standards,” she added.
Meanwhile, Rozita, 52, who resides here, said Amira’s comments were a wake-up call for her to use her ornamental yam plants to build bridges with the less fortunate, especially single mothers.
“I was truly moved by Amira’s comments on my FB as I myself have experienced difficulties in life. Hence, I decided to give her the ornamental yam plant.
“I told her to grow the plant first. If it grows and produces as well, she can sell the seedling by fixing her own price. If it grows well, we can upgrade it to species that are of high value,” she told Bernama.
Since then, Rozita said she pursued with efforts to give away her ornamental yam plants to the less fortunate especially single mothers and helped them become successful ornamental yam plant entrepreneurs.
According to Rozita, she has so far managed to mould 10 ornamental yam growers into entrepreneurs in Melaka and Selangor.
“I usually give away plants of the common species first but they are still of quality and in demand from customers.
“From there, I would assess their entrepreneurial attitude to start and run a business, assist them by providing advice and guidance on breeding techniques to ensure their yam plants are of superior traits, capable of fetching high prices,” she added.
Some people may not see the value of the seedling, but for Rozita, unlike other businesses, yam growing can generate lucrative returns, if the right approach including quality maintenance is adopted.
“While the yam can reproduce and multiply into seedlings, not all, especially its leaves, can fetch ‘kayangan’ prices,” she said, adding that yam breeding is also time consuming. You’ve got to wait for the plant to grow to a suitable size before it can be sold,” she added.
She said that depending on the type of yam, each seedling is sold from as low as RM50 and can fetch as high as thousands of ringgit, based on the size.
Rozita said through knowledge-sharing on FB Live, aspiring yam growers under her guidance will be able to learn the various tips and techniques on plant caring for ornamental yams.
“I learned the process and techniques such as transferring the seedling from the pot to the ground, cutting the yam or selecting the type of soil or fertiliser through trial and error. Different technique is employed for different type of yam,” she said, adding that some of her FB friends have also made forays abroad.
According to Rozita, there is a website that is focused on guiding fans of ornamental yams to bid for plants of their choice.
“But of course, the price offered is sometimes ridiculous. But for fans of such plants, price is not an issue,” she said.
THERAPEUTIC, RELIVING MEMORIES
Rozita, who does not have her own nursery said, she however grows her ornamental yam plants in her own garden measuring 6 ft x 10 ft, which has been attracting her fans and visitors in droves.
Sharing her passion for yam growing, Rozita said she became actively involved in collecting and breeding various types of yams since 2020 following the tightening of measures under the Movement Control Order (MCO) due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Her love for gardening, she said was not only therapeutic while having to buckle down at home during the pandemic, but was also a way of remembering her late mother who died a year earlier.
“My mother was a gifted gardener. Anything she turns her hand to in the garden grows. Orchids were her favourite. I never imagined that I would inherit the love of gardening from my mother although I was not really interested in plants in the early stages.
“But with the passing of my mother, I took over from her by tending to the orchid plants and from there, my interest grew and indirectly it (the garden) became a place for me to relive fond memories of my mother,” she shared.
HIGHLY SOUGHT AFTER
Rozita said she currently has over 20 types of ornamental yam plants including imported varieties from Thailand, Indonesia and Colombia, with some fetching prices as high as RM30,000 each.
She said among those sought after are those from these species – Black Lava, Thunderstorm, Pharaoh Mask, Milkyway, Midnight, 916 Guena Gold and Colocasia esculenta ‘Mojito’ (Taro).
“Surprisingly, some Thai collectors are interested in securing the yam seedlings from me.
“This is the best opportunity for us to exchange our ornamental yam plants of different varieties although yam seedlings can fetch thousands of ringgit. The transaction involves various processes such as immigration requirements, including obtaining permits,” she said.
To a question, she said the secret of breeding top-notch ornamental yam plants is interest and sincerity.
“Actually, the plant is easily manageable. You only need suitable soil and fertiliser. But to ensure your plants thrive, with larger leaves and beautiful shapes, you have to always talk to the plants as they can also help them grow faster.
“It looks rather strange, but that is what I have been doing. In fact, while transferring the seedlings or throwing away the damaged or dead leaves, I get their approval first. Do it gently,” added Rozita.