MACHANG : Rahim Yusoff (picture) may have been born without hands but he “has his hands full” now breeding catfish to earn a decent income for his family of five.
Rahim, 54, affectionately known as Pok Su Mie and who uses his legs for his hands, said he decided to venture into this business after the COVID-19 pandemic cut deeply into his income as a tailor.
“My income as a tailor plunged when COVID-19 struck with great intensity in March last year. I was earning RM20 a day previously but when the pandemic emerged, it was extremely tough to even make RM100 a month.
“So, I had to seek an alternative income to feed my family – my wife Noraidah Hamzah, 46, who is also a person with disabilities (PwD) and our three children aged between eight and 17,” he told Bernama at his house in Kampung Bukit Pangkal Gong, here.
Rahim said he got the idea to breed freshwater fish when he saw abandoned concrete culvert rings half-buried upright near his house.
“There were 14 culvert rings. They were supposed to prevent rainwater from washing away the earth. They usually get filled with rain water.
“So, I bought 300 catfish and 100 tilapia fry at 20 sen and five sen each, respectively, from the Kuala Krai Fisheries Department and reared them in the culvert rings. Altogether, I spent about RM300 on the fry and some fish-breeding equipment,” he said.
However, Rahim’s inexperience resulted in a catastrophe. Some 250 of the catfish and tilapia died.
He learned from the loss. He ruled out rearing tilapia, he said, adding that the fish is sensitive and constantly needs clean water.
Subsequently, he attended an aquaponics course conducted for free by the Kelantan Agriculture Association (Alami) for PwDs.
He set aside RM80 to buy food pallets for 300 catfish that will last for three months and changed their water every two days.
Rahim said he bought 700 more catfish fry in mid-November after realising that the venture can bring encouraging returns.
“I managed to sell 200 catfish weighing 15 kg from the first batch to my neighbours for RM7 per kg. I am excited about wanting to expand the business considering the potential of the market. I also plan to breed patin (silver catfish) soon,” he said.
As a PwD, Rahim receives a monthly allowance of RM450 from the Social Welfare Department. His wife gets RM350.
Zulkifli Abdul Rahman, 52, one of Rahim’s customers, said he often buys catfish from Pok Su Mie, as he calls Rahim affectionately, to cook various types of dishes.
“I often obtain my fish supply from Pok Su Mie to help him out. His fish does not have that fishy smell of the freshwater fish sold at some retail outlets,” he said.
by BERNAMA / pic by BERNAMA