In December 2015, a car accident left Dr Billy Tang, an agriculturist and private researcher, with traumatic spinal cord injury.
A determined person, he aspired to return to his area of expertise – urban farming.
Last July, Tang, 53, of Kota Damansara, discovered a new purpose in life when he and four others co-founded Aqua Hope, a showcase of hydroponic and aquaponic urban farming in Semenyih, Selangor. Presently, only 1.2ha of the 8ha land is used for farming.
A paraplegic, Tang could not undertake farming the conventional way using soil. After several meetings with his co-founders, they decided to embark on soil-less farming.
“Aqua Hope, a demonstration urban farm, is the first of its kind employing soil-less techniques to grow fresh organic produce that is free from herbicides and pesticides,” said Tang, who was an icon for People With Disabilities (PWD) at the Selangor OKU Career Carnival last November.
The farm is gradually gaining a foothold in the community.
The farm currently produces 10,000 plants in a 557sq m greenhouse each month. It has the ability to harvest 189 plants per square metre. It also breeds 250 Australian Jade Perch.
Most of the tanks and hardware at the farm are manufactured in Tan’s factory.
He said: “The goal is to supply organic and pesticide-free fresh food directly to nearby communities within a 10km radius.” Tan believes the farm can drive the local economy that is environmentally sustainable.
Lee, too, is hopeful that “the direct supply of fresh greens to nearby communities will stimulate the local economy and reduce the importation of vegetables”.