Tuesday July 31, 2012
Mek Jah earns a living from nipah palm
By SAZUKI EMBONG
KOTA BARU: For more than 30 years, Mek Jah Yaakub has been depending on the nipah palm to make a living and support her 15 children.
Mek Jah, 53, sits on the cement floor of her house at Pantai Pulau Kundur and diligently sifts the young nipah palm shoots and cuts it up into small pieces as a condiment for nasi kerabu.
The young nipah palm shoots are an important ingredient in the dish that is a must at every kenduri.
Mek Jah starts the day by going to mangrove swamps close to her home to harvest the young shoots.
“I make an average of RM10 per day by producing 4kg of palm shoots and during Ramadan, orders increase to 6kg per day.
“But I make the most by producing 30kg of palm shoots for those who intend to have a kenduri at their homes,” said Mek Jah.
She said that all these years she had depended on the young nipah shoots to feed her family and admits that it is just enough to make ends meet.
“None of my 15 children have studied beyond primary school.
“This is the only trade I know and I will probably have to do it until the day I die,” she said while cutting up the young shoots.
Mek Jah also said she cuts up the flowers and mixes it with the young shoots because it would enhance the taste of nasi kerabu.
Mek Jah said she did not have the energy to weave the dried nipah palms into attap although it is much sought after for gazebos or wakaf.
She added that the palms could also be woven into mats, baskets and other household items while young leaves are used to roll cigarettes.
“I can earn more by making mats or baskets but it is too costly to bring hundreds of dried palm fronds to the house as we cannot afford the transport cost.”
Her 55-year-old husband and several of her children help out this hardworking mother whenever they can.