Getting better with time – living with uncertainty and El Niño

August 20, 2015

There is little point in beating around the bush. So I will dive right in – the outlook for the farming this year is bleak.

Commodity prices are rock bottom. The clever $ is leaving Malaysia. Currency is shot up. The political landscape is precarious and uncertain. To cap it all off, it’s supposed to be an epic El Niño year!

This is the hardest year I ever faced ever since venturing into commercial farming simply because there is absolutely no margin for error – time the harvest wrongly and one is likely to face a 25% loss in profit, gauge the weather wrong and one could well lose precious opportunity cost along with suffering a crippling shortfall.

Recently many farmers in my region lost big time. As they followed the standard annual schedule for manuring. Since it’s an El Niño year, the rainfall this time of the year was exceptionally heavy. For many the expensive fertilizer they broadcasted was all washed away by the exceptionally heavy deluge.

This year. I did something peculiar – I threw out the standard farming manual and decided to go my own way, by holding back on the manuring and waiting instead. It proved to be a wise decision.

Yesterday and the day before I manured. Last night a gentle rain fell and all the fertilizer I broadcasted went where it was supposed to go – to nourish the trees.

The timing was perfect and I am safe for the next quarter – as since my trees have been well nourished, I am likely to reap a good harvest.

At times like this when I past from theory to reality – I can’t help but feel luck may have something to do with my good fortune. I am not discounting the effort that I put in to gauge the weather or the quality of the decisions I’ve have made to maximize whatever little opportunities came my way this year…..only luck did play a very big role in winning this time.

I just hope my luck continues to hold out…. For the time being. I am relieved, as I am happy. Now all I want to do is sleep and wake up and cook myself spaghetti.


‘I did not venture into commercial farming under ideal conditions. For starters I had to somehow turn a profit on hilly and swampy land – the sort of land that even the most seasoned oil palm farmer would have plenty of reservations putting his time and effort into….simply because it’s akind to ploughing the sea.

Coupled to that. I have to deal with evil people who have more money and a better networked who are out to kill me all the time!

But to me that’s an allegory of how life really is! One never gets to start off anything with 100%…it’s always 70% or less and the rest you just have to make up as you go along…the best you can.

Think about it. That’s how it really is – you’re born short, your nose is too flat. You fucked up along the way and that set back puts you right back on square one. Or maybe you are like me, not very smart and always awkward around people…a square peg in a world of only round holes. But what do you do? Do you jump into a lake and end it all?

No! You trudge on with your 70%, 50% or less. You’re like a mad man shoveling coal into a furnace. That at least is how everyone sees you. But you don’t care about the impossible odds stacked against you! You just want to burn down the house! May seem to some like a great diffusion of energy amounting to very little, but that’s only because they’ve never had to go thru a storm before.

If there is anything to be said about a man having to go thru a metaphoric storm – it’s the classical idea, that’s really the only reliable way for him to find himself somewhere in between making things work with loads of ductape and superglue or having to get by with less. You learn along the way so many things.

That I guess is what really builds character and deep spirited wisdom.

That’s why if like me – your life happens to be hard and things seem uphill all the time….never despair. Everything happens for a reason and it will all come around to serve you well somewhere down the future. As once you go thru a storm. Or it spits you out….you will never be the same….you have changed.’

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