Monday, February 19, 2018


What is KANGKONG?. Kangkong is the Asian-originated name for what in English is known as water spinach, a leafy green water vegetable. Kangkong (Impomea aquatica) is a leafy vegetable grown in Malaysia as a popular local foods. There are various names for kangkong, which is the name common in the Asia-Pacific region. Other names of kangkong are water morning glory, swamp cabbage, river spinach, Chinese spinach and water convolvulus. The scientific name for kangkong is Ipomoea acquatica and the plant is believed to have originated from Asia. Kangkong or water spinach is a soft-stemmed aquatic or semi-aquatic perennial plant found in tropical and sub-tropical regions. The leaves are flat and vary in shape depending on variety, from heart-shaped to long, narrow and arrow-shaped. The two common varieties of kangkong we grow are the one with green stem that bears white flowers and the one with white stem that bears pink flowers. If the leaves are not harvested early and it flowers, it produces seeds, which can be planted. In Papua New Guinea, kangkong naturally grows along riverbanks and in swampy areas and lakes. There is not much work or the maintenance required in growing kangkong. Kangkong grows roots from the stem's nodes when planted so we don’t grow them from the seeds. It does not have any season and grows all year round, thriving where there is plenty of water and moist soil. It is weather-resistant. Kangkong can also be a best vegetable to grow at home, provided that its growing conditions are met. Watch the video below about the best tips on growing your own kangkong at home.

Kangkong or Water Spinach Health Benefits are discussed in this article. Kangkong leaves are very nutritious, being rich in vitamins and minerals. It is naturally rich in dietary fiber, protein, calcium, iron, vitamin A and vitamin C as indicated in the table below. Young water spinach leaves has been and an excellent leafy green vegetable for people with anaemia and pregnant women who need iron in their diets. I have not heard of any harmful effects of kangkong apart from its mild laxative effect when eaten a lot on empty stomach. Because of this laxative effect, kangkong is excellent for people suffering from constipation. Because of its high nutritional value and weather-resistant nature, kangkong or water spinach is a plant that can be grown for food and nutrition for both man and animals. It may be a solution for world hunger and nutrition deficit.

Delicious Asian Kangkong Recipe ar available in Malaysia how to cook kangkong. The mos popular is to cook kangkong with belacan (or known asa shrimp paste). Kangkong is a very popular vegetable in Malaysia and throughout South-East Asia. If you're stay in Asia, don't forget to try a kangkong dish. It's a delicacy! There are many varieties of kangkong dishes. My favourite ones are the simple garlic kangkong and garlic kangkong with chili stir-fried. Raw kangkong preserves most of the nutritional values. The 'baby varieties' of water spinach is nice being eaten raw. Kangkong tastes better when it is not over-cooked. If you want to try cooking kangkong yourself there are few of kangkong recipes. The South-East Asian local delight sambal kangkong is cooked with sambal chilli. There are many varieties of sambal kangkong dishes.

Other Uses of Kangkong important because all parts of the young water spinach plant is edible with the shoot tips and young leaves being the best. Kangkong can be eaten raw or cooked. It is best stir-fried, with the stems being cooked a bit longer than the leaves. The white-stemmed kangkong is more softer and better than the green-stemmed one. The leaves have a pleasant, mild and sweet flavour and has a slippery feel. Apart from human consumption, kangkong leaves and stems also serve as food for the domesticated animals and fish when grown in lakes. More Kangkong Recipes differs from localities. If you want to learn how to cook a delicious Asian kangkong dish, whether it be a simple stir fry kangkong, sambal kangkong or you want to learn how to cook abodong kangkong, there are some links you may wish to check out. Cooking kangkong needs minimal skill. There are no wrong or right way. Once you know the basics, you can improvise. The important thing to note is that kangkong leaves are very soft whilst the stem will need a bit more cooking. Thanks for read this article.

M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Kangkong Farms,
TKPM Pulau Manis,
Kuantan, Pahang,
(5 April 2017)

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


A species of beetle illegally brought in across the Thai-Malaysian border has been ravaging the nation’s palm trees, and - if left unchecked - can potentially decimate the palm oil industry within just 20 years. The Red Palm Weevil, or Rhynchophorus ferrugineus is a species of beetle that excavates holes in the trunk of palm trees, eventually killing the plant. It infests coconut palms (Cocos nucifera), date palms and oil palms. From my engagement to the Department of Agriculture’s (DoA) Plant Biosecurity Division, so far a whopping 465ha of coconut trees are gone, mainly in Terengganu and Kedah. But according to Biosecurity Division Director of DOA, there are more states may attacked by RPW such as Pahang, Kelantan, Johor, Perak and few others. Currently there are 85,799 ha of coconut palms in Malaysia. Additionally, 335 date palms have been eaten. From the reports, writers found out that so far, said that the department head Faridah Aini mentioned that no commercial oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) plantations had been affected, but the weevil’s spread was a major cause for concern. What worries us is that if these beetles do not have access to their main source of food in date palms, they will move to oil palm trees.

There have been reports which are still unconfirmed as yet, but it is a very real concern,” she said, adding that research was currently ongoing in several universities across the country. Research at UKM has shown that even without being forced, the weevil will go to the palm oil fruits and breed inside the tree itself. The red palm weevil first entered the country when seedlings and date palms were illegally brought in across the border with the beetle in the trunks. Under Malaysia’s Plant Quaran­tine Act, the import of any palms except for research purposes is prohibited. So far, the weevil can be found in five states - Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, Penang and Terengganu - with the latter being the worst-hit. More farmers and local people have been bringing pandan coconut and date palms in for years, but after El Nino recently the weather became more suitable for these palms to flower and fruit, so people wanted to bring it in. However, unknown to most people, the bulk of the date palms smuggled in were ornamental plants that would not fruit. While Malaysia is home to several other species of palm weevil, the one that has recently entered our shores breeds far quicker and so is more dangerous. To control its spread, we must spray cypermethrin (an insecticide) every two weeks until the infestation is dead. We have to do preventive spraying as well, including soil drenching (adding diluted chemicals to the base of plants). The adults are also killed with the use of pheromone traps, which can be used as an early detection method. “If we find beetles in the traps, we know there are probably more,” she said.

The DoA has also met with and briefed the Smuggling Prevention Unit (UPP) of the Border Control Agency to look into the matter. The Biosecurity Division has urged Malaysians to contact the DoA if they notice a possible infestation, or spray insecticide themselves. “The first sign will be a wilting crown - the leaves fall into a skirt-like formation around the tree. They will then start dropping. “Eventually, the whole trunk will be hollowed out and potentially fall, which is also a risk to the public, as some areas use palms as avenue trees to line roads and pathways, and even around mosques. While the beetle had appeared in Malaysia in 2010, the situation had worsened due to an increase in smuggling. “We have approached nurseries and told them to stop selling these smuggled date palms, but people must stop buying from unreliable sources, and report any potential smuggling to the authorities. RPW are the latest pests for palm trees that was monitored seriously in Malaysia especially on the attack ata coconut areas. Thanks.

M Anem,
Senior AGronomist,
Coconut Estates, Rompin,
Pahang, Malaysia.
(Prepared on 4 April 2017)
Posted and reviewed on 7 Feb 2018.

Saturday, February 3, 2018


Malaysia has been very successful in developing the country through organized and focused economic development plans. Globally, Malaysia has been ranked sixth in 2014 on Ease of Doing Business, 20th in the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) 2014- 2015, 33rd in the Global Innovation Index (GII) 2014 and 56th in the World Happiness Index (2013). These indicators have proven that Malaysia is capable to promote a new orientation of development focusing towards sustainability and inclusiveness. The development of a nation relies on its citizen’s wellbeing. One of the important factors of citizen’s wellbeing is food production. Food is the backbone of the society. Realising this, the Malaysian government has taken steps to ensure that there is enough food for its population. The emphasis is on self-sustainability. The agro-ecosystem management and agricultural planning has been revamped to ensure sustainability and to include green-friendly values and equitable and inclusiveness of all stake holders. Sustainable development must be inclusive enough to cater and address the population’s wider needs for food, feed, fuel, fibre, furniture, pharmaceuticals and felicity. Constraints such as high implementation cost, and pressing health and environmental concerns require governments to plan their agriculture development towards being trim, mean, focused, not wasteful, savvy, and compliant to the global environmental and health standards.  This article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" I would like to share some basic information with all readers.

(1) Economic opportunity

(a) Opportunity in Environment Sustainability
There are high awareness in green agriculture or environmental friendly approach in agriculture activities is the best way to keep the environment clean and sustainable. Adopting green technology in agriculture would create sustainable agriculture practices and promote agro-ecology and sustainable ecosystems. The effort to raise public awareness on sustainability, and public participation in activities such as food health literacy, green life style and waste to wealth, could contribute to achieving environment sustainability.

(b) Technology in Environment Sustainability
The vertical farming as one way of farming is cultivating plant or animal life within a skyscraper greenhouse or on vertically inclined surfaces. Advantages for vertical farming include no weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests and all vertical farming food are grown organically with no herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers. Integrated farming and waste management to reduce erosion, increase crop yields, nutrient recycling, strengthen environmental sustainability. An integrated farming system consists of a range of resource-saving practices that aims to achieve acceptable high profits and sustained production levels, while minimizing the negative effects of intensive farming and preserving the environment.

(c) Aquaculture:
Aquaponic is a sustainable food production system that combines conventional aquaculture with modern methods of raising aquatic animals such as fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks. In aquaculture, effluents accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity for the fish. This water is led to a hydroponic system where the by-products from the aquaculture are broken down by nitrogen-fixing bacteria, then filtered out by the plants as nutrients, after which the cleaned water is recirculated back to the animals

(d) Smart Sprinkler and Drip Irrigation System
Smart sprinkler and drip irrigation system is an approach to reduce production cost as smart systems use water only when needed. The system also save production time as the irrigation installer has programmed the site data into the smart system, where the controller adjusts the watering schedule based upon local conditions and/or soil moisture and by zone. Agro ecosystem management could lead to better economy for the nation. This could be achieved through investment to reduce poverty and improve production and efficiency. Growth of commercial agriculture could deliver approximately 40 – 50 percent of needed productivity increases, contribute to economic activity, and scale up sustainable practices. But foreign investments, if there is a need for them, must be balanced against fear of land grabs and concerns about the safety of new technologies.

(2) Issues and challenges in economy

Agriculture sector contribution to Malaysia GDP has shown declining trends since 1970 to 2010, from 28.8 to 7.3 percent, respectively. However this phenomenon is normal in the cycle of development. The main contribution towards this trend is the lack of employment in the agriculture sector. This condition is being experienced globally where employment in the agriculture stands at only 37.3 percent of total employment. As for Malaysia, only 13.3 percent of total employment is in agriculture, forestry and fishing. Lack of involvement of youth is one of the reasons for the lack of labour in this sector. Youth are not interested to make agriculture as their career due to “poor man’s sector” mindset. This leads to the increased of foreign workers in the country.
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Room 1807, Imperial Heritage Hotel,
Bandar Hilir, Melaka,
(19 RabiulAwal 1439H)

Monday, January 8, 2018


Malaysian paddy and rice industry has always been given special treatment based on the strategic importance of rice as a staple food commodity. This study attempts to simulate the impacts of changes in government intervention policy, namely the fertilizer subsidy on the Malaysian paddy and rice industry using system dynamics model. Simulation result indicates that fertilizer subsidy does give a significant impact to the paddy and rice industry. Fertilizer subsidy increases the yield obtained and hence increase paddy production. The removal of fertilizer subsidy decreased the paddy production and consequently, decrease the Self Sufficiency Level (SSL). With the removal of fertilizer subsidy the importation of rice seem inevitable due to the reduction in productions. Meantime the growth in population will further put a pressure to the government to increase importation and to find alternative policies to sustain production and to increase yield.

Rice has been a staple food of the Malaysian community and the paddy/rice industry is considered as a strategic industry and always gets special treatment from the government. Plain Rice, Nasi Lemak, Nasi Goreng, Nasi Kukus, Nasi Kerabu, Nasi Beriyani among popular rice served in Malaysia (See photo next).The rice industry is heavily regulated because of its social, political and economic importance. In 2009 apart from being the main source of food, it also provides the livelihood to 172,000 paddy farmers in the country. Land utilization for paddy production is currently at 674,928 hectares which is 76 percent in Peninsular Malaysia (515,657 ha) while in East Malaysia of Sarawak and Sabah accounted for 18 percent (118,919 ha) and 6 percent (40,352 ha) of the total area hectareage respectively. The complexity of the paddy/rice industry makes planning and policy formulation is not an easy task. For example the instability in rice prices in world market which occur in early 1970, middle of 1980 and recently in 2008 give a big negative impact to the industry. Besides, paddy/rice industry is also the most highly protected industry in the country. There are three types of government interventions, these are: import restriction or quota, fertilizer subsidies and price supports. With trade liberalization, the allowable policy instruments to continue supporting and subsidizing the industry will be limited. Thus, it will have some impact to the industry if the trade liberalization is fully implemented. The changes in the government policy such as the removal of fertilizer subsidy for paddy production due to trade liberalization may give negative impacts to the paddy/rice industry.

This scenario may lead to the reduction in rice production, decreased in the case of self sufficiency level (SSL) and increase in import. This study attempts to simulate the impacts of changes in government intervention policy, namely the Fertilizer Subsidy on the Malaysian paddy and rice industry using system dynamics model. Studies have shown that inputs subsidies such as fertilizer help to maintain the productivity of the paddy farm. For example rice producers in India continued to benefit from high government subsidies on inputs in particular fertilizers and irrigation, but also from procurement at minimum support prices. These subsidies lead to the increase in production. Similarly supporting elements ranging from provision of agricultural inputs for rice production such as increasing fertilizer supply, provision of good quality seed, credit with low interest rate played significant role in providing basic support to increase productivity, improving rice quality and minimizing losses in Indonesia.  All these intervention contributed greatly to Indonesia’s self sufficiency in paddy and rice production. Similarly as above indicate that among the factors affecting the increasing gap between production and consumption of rice include input subsidies, credit programs, guaranteed price, distribution of coupons, and the importing of rice using foreign exchange valued at a special cheap rate allocated for food.

Reference above conducted a study on the Indonesia rice supply performance in trade liberalization era. The objective of the study was to analyze the impact of free trade and its consequences to the Indonesian rice economy. They used simultaneous regression analysis (two-stage least square method) to analyze the impact of free trade to the rice economy. They found that removal of import tariff and government involvement will significantly reduce producer surplus. Reference [6] conducted a study on maize trade liberalization versus fertilizer subsidies in Tanzania. They used computable general equilibrium model (CGE) in order to evaluate two policy measures meant to stimulate growth and crop production in Tanzania. The simulation results indicate that fertilizer subsidies promote cash production and a more land intensive production pattern while maize trade liberalization, on the other hand, stimulates food crops and land extensive production processes. In contrast, as the indicated that the fertilizer subsidy is not a key determinant of the use of fertilizer in paddy cultivation. The regression results from this study indicated that changes in the prices of fertilizer and paddy do not have a significant effect on fertilizer usage, which points to the fact that the fertilizer subsidy is not a key determinant of the use of fertilizer in paddy cultivation. The study also found that there is a relatively higher correlation between fertilizer usage and paddy price than between fertilizer usage and fertilizer price. These findings suggest that the fertilizer subsidy could be withdrawn gradually over time for future paddy farming in Malaysia. Thanks...
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Taman Bandar BAru UDA,
Johor Bahru,
(18 RabiulAwal 1439H)

Monday, January 1, 2018


The Malaysian government has allocated RM2.4 billion for continuation of subsidies and incentives in the agricultural sector announced by Prime Minister. He said in the 2014 budget presented by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, the agriculture sector had not been left behind in the agenda of the national budget. The allocation includes subsidies for fertilizers, seeds and rice prices, production incentives and increasing paddy rice price subsidies and incentives for fishermen,” he said at the final closing of national budget. On that the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro based Industry said this proved the government’s commitment to further develop the agricultural sector in this country. MoA spokesman said agriculture had not only been viewed a very important element in the national economy growth but also rice planting which is to be used as a ‘National Food Security Crop’. In addition, according to the minister, to increase productivity and produce agricultural products of high demand, the government has allocated RM634 million under the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA).

Among the projects underlined are rice planting, fish cage project, seaweed project, swiftlet project, high-value herbs projects, vegetable planting and fruits for the export market. The swiftlet project are among high impact and revenue for local farmers due to the high expection and quality income (Please see photo next). Malaysia produce premium quality swiftlet product in the world for many years.  In accordance with the provisions provided for agricultural development, support programs such as loan schemes with low interest rates were also increased in order to promote and encourage entrepreneur development. Many department, agencies and private sectors would be implementing skills training courses in agricultural technology such as basic agriculture to create awareness and open the minds of those who are interested and aspire to go further in the field of agricultural entrepreneurship. Recently the government was aware that in order to enable farmers to achieve progress and durability to be competitive, they need a high knowledge in order to understand how to become a successful agricultural entrepreneur. Obviously, we need farmers who are knowledgeable and skilled in addition to having the mental strength and physical endurance that can utilise advanced agricultural sustainability and competitiveness to make Malaysia a popular in the global agricultural hub. 

Sixteen percent of the population of Malaysia is employed through some sort of agriculture. Large-scale plantations were established by the British. These plantations opened opportunity for new crops such as rubber (1876), palm oil (1917) and cocoa (1950). The climate of Malaysia produces the proper conditions for production of exotic produce. It is located on a peninsula in southeast Asia. This area is very rarely affected by hurricanes or drought. Malaysia maintains a humidity level around ninety percent because of its location close to the equator. The weather stays hot and humid all year round This ministry is also known as the Kementerian Pertanian & Industry Asas Tani Malaysia. The MOA had its name changed to the current title on 27 March 2004. The ministry serves as an agency for private agricultural businesses to get advised by experts that specialise in agriculture, fishing, and livestock.[3] The ministry plans the policies, strategies, and different development programs. It monitors, surveys, directs, and puts into action the projects given by the Integrated Agricultural Development Project (IADP). The ministry has services such as collecting, analysing and restoring information and agricultural data through science and provide the report to farmers. It provides references and agricultural management systems for plantation owners to access all collected agriculture information.
M Anim,
Senior Agronomist,
Aras 7, G42,
WismaTani, Putrajaya,
(December 2017).

Monday, December 18, 2017


KANGKONG or KANGKUNG (Impomea aquatica) able to grows in water or on moist soil. Its stems are 2–3 metres (7–10 ft) or more long, rooting at the nodes, and they are hollow and can float. The leaves vary from typically sagittate (arrow head-shaped) to lanceolate, 5–15 cm (2–6 in) long and 2–8 cm (0.8–3 in) broad. The flowers are trumpet-shaped, 3–5 cm (1–2 in) in diameter, and usually white in colour with a mauve centre. Propagation is either by planting cuttings of the stem shoots that will root along nodes or planting the seeds from flowers that produce seed pods. The plants known as Ipomoea aquatica is a semiaquatic, tropical plant grown as a vegetable for its tender shoots and leaves. It is found throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, although it is not known where it originated. This plant is known in English as water spinach, river spinach, water morning glory, water convolvulus. In Malaysia growing kangkong is a good business since more than 2,600 hectar grown in 2016 producing more than 265,000 metric tones valued at RM15.4 million. Kangkong are among the cheapest and nutritious leafy vegetables consumes by local. However kangkong has once less popular due to a report that the hazadous effect to health especially those with high residual level. Those bad kangkong probably collected from the contaminated ponds in the farms. This article I in "Anim Agriculture Technology" I would likr to share about the good and bad about kangkong.

Probably there's nothing like a celebrity endorsement to deliberate or otherwise. Why, even a humble vegetable like the kangkong or water spinach can get its 15 minutes of fame. So we’re here to tell you what you really should know about the kangkung. From rice fields, streams and swamps to the wok and then our tummies, the water spinach has now reached new levels of virality on the Internet, thanks to a stir-frying political and economic endorsement. But here are three things you might not know about Malaysia’s cheapest vegetable. There's nothing like a celebrity endorsement to deliberate or otherwise. Why, even a humble vegetable like the water spinach can get its 15 minutes of fame. So we’re here to tell you what you really should know about the kangkung. From rice fields, streams and swamps to the wok and then our tummies, the water spinach has now reached new levels of virality on the Internet, thanks to a stir-frying political and economic endorsement. But here are three things you might not know about Malaysia’s cheapest vegetable.

Some people says that there ia invasion Of The Water Spinach in specific location. Though kangkung is grown everywhere and grows anywhere in Southeast Asia and they call it phak bung in Thailand, rau mung in Vietnam, trokuon in Cambodia and kalmi shak in Bangladesh and in other parts of the world it’s despised as swamp cabbage. In America, it’s known as the Chinese water spinach and is officially designated by the Department Of Agriculture as a noxious weed. Abhorred as an invasive species, our beloved greenie has thrived in the wetlands of Texas, Florida and even California where its unstoppable, quick-growing hollow stems simply float over the indigenous flora and form ragged mats that choke and stagnate everything in its path. Alas, Americans have yet to acquiesce to this rural cuisine and popular wartime crop. Make it rabbit food or harvest the green plague and stir-fry it.

But recently there is a report about 'Killer Kangkung!. Is it true about the reports?. Kangkung’s indescribable blandness and crispy texture perfectly complement pungent ingredients like garlic, chilli and belacan. But be careful how you cook and eat it, or you could end up with a case of Fasciolopsiasis. It’s a condition caused by the Fasciolopsis buski, a large parasitic intestinal fluke that can be found as larval cysts laid on the water spinach (and several other water vegetables for that matter) in the hope that a reckless human will consume it raw. In humans and pigs, the cysts release the fluke that anchors itself to the wall of the intestine and causes indigestion, allergic reactions and abdominal pain. It’s a total gross-out and untreated cases can be fatal, so please fry or boil that kangkung good and proper before serving it.

In other reports saying that 'Kangkung Cure-All!'. Most of the Southeast Asian aunties have long promoted the Ipomoea aquatica as a universal magic potion for various ailments and everything from diabetes to haemorrhoids to insomnia. That it’s hard to differentiate fact from fiction. Kangkung won’t cure the economy but the water spinach is certainly full of nutritional goodness: A 100g serving contains water (90%), protein (3%), fibre (3%), fat (0.9%), carbohydrate (4.3%), minerals (2%), nicotinamide (0.6mg), riboflavin (120mg), vitamin C (137mg) and vitamin E (11mg). It also contains carotene, amino acids including polyphenol (an antioxidant), and minerals such as potassium, iron and magnesium. All this makes the humble vegetable a veritable superfood. It’s simply a matter of time before health freaks start juicing the freak out of it. On a final note, here’s a progressive remake of a musical tribute to the kangkung. Thanks for the references.

M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Kangkong Farms,
Bukit Katil, Melaka,
(8 April 2017)

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


This article about a report from the Star title as "Cashing in On Coconut'. It refers to my blog. According to a blog post by M. Anem ( ), a senior agronomist from the horticulture division of the Department of Agriculture, based on a calculation of 124 trees (the ideal number of trees per hectare), production rates can vary from 6,000 to 30,000 nuts a year, depending on the nut species. Among the species, the Malaysian Dwarf coconut is the most prolific of fruiters. An average price of 60 sen per nut for 11,000 coconuts would bring a plantation owner gross income of RM6,600 per year per hectare, minus the one-off initial development costs of RM4,344 per hectare. At last count, the total area for the major coconut growing states of Perak, Johor, Selangor, Sabah and Sarawak is believed to cover 88,190ha. Based on the above calculation, just the nuts alone would generate estimated revenue in the region of RM500mil a year. This article in ''Anim Agriculture Technology'' I share my views from this report.

As full-time model Siti An Naseha Ibrahim, 23, reveals, her parent’s 20-year-old coconut milk business at the Muhibbah Market in Taman Nirwana, Ampang, has afforded her stepfather an Audi TTS and her mother, a Mini Cooper S. As a birthday present last year, Siti herself received a yellow MyVi Special Edition. Their main customers are restaurants and caterers. It’s not so surprising that Siti’s parents have been able to thrive on this creamy ingredient. Take for example the often reviewed Ah Loy Curry Mee in Jalan Hujan Rahmat 3, off Jalan Kelang Lama. A typical day sees the business using no less than 100 coconuts for its sinfully rich curry gravy. And let’s not forget the silky smoothness of coconut oil. According to the Mundi Index of country profiles, Malaysia’s contribution to coconut oil production hovered at 35,000 tonnes last year. As of November 2012, the price per tonne was RM2,600, which means coconut oil pumped RM91mil into the country’s economy.

Tan Boon Yoong, age 55 of Biococo Marketing is one of the entrepreneurs who have jumped on this nutty bandwagon. A former advertising manager, the father of one started a company to market organic virgin coconut oil as a beauty oil and health product six years ago. Concentrating on a niche market, the Biococo range of products comprises of soaps, skin serums and edible virgin coconut oil. Tan started by introducing his products to pharmacies within the Klang Valley. Since then, sales have increased by 50% on a yearly basis as he ventured to other states and eventually overseas to Singapore, Australia, China and the United Kingdom. “Our current best sellers are the beauty products, with our skin repair serum which has anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle properties being very popular,” said Tan. Reporting yearly sales turnover of RM500,000 currently, Tan’s strategy is not to aim at the mass market but to target individually owned pharmacies where the owners are the backbone of the business. For him, nothing beats the personal approach when it comes to spreading product awareness. “Usually, these business owners will have better customers rapport than the chain stores, which translates to better acceptance of coconut oil as a health product. As it is, there is a public misperception about coconut oil which has to be dealt with,” said Tan, who cites this as one of his biggest challenges in addition to the current preferences of local farmers to focus on palm oil which promises a quicker and higher returns. With products priced between RM35 and RM140, Tan gets his supply of raw material from plantations along the west coast. He only selects mature coconuts that are no less than 12 months old for their thick, white flesh, and pays around RM2 per nut.

A typical order arrives at the plantation early in the morning where the nuts are dehusked to be sent to Tan’s factory by afternoon where the maximum output capacity is some 10,000 units of 250ml bottles of oil per month. The process, currently kept a company secret as Tan has yet to patent the technology, is 100% heat-free so that all nutrients in the oil are preserved. For many, the coconut maintains an evergreen appeal and in Lee Zhen Yi’s case it takes the form of a cooling and delicious jelly. The 56-year-old owner of Spazi Enterprise, who runs a wholesale baking-ingredients business, ventured into the making of coconut jellies three years ago when customers requested for plain dessert puddings. At that time, many of the puddings available on the supermarket shelves were flavoured. Ever willing to please, Lee worked on his recipe formula for the perfect jelly powder mix for two years, going to as far as Penang and Sabah to perform personal taste and texture tests. Lee and his coconut jellies finally made their debut at the 2012 Food Fair at the Mid Valley Mega Mall where he landed supply contracts with several restaurant chains. Since then, he has participated in three other major food and beverage fairs at the Putra World Trade Center and under the Malaysian Tourism Board. Coming in packs of 180gm at RM4 each and served in a whole coconut for RM9 each, Lee uses only the pandan variety of coconuts bought from Felda plantations. “The origin of the pandan coconut is from Thailand but there are also local growers. I felt that it would be better to buy local in order to support the Buy Malaysia drive and to foster closer relationships with my suppliers,” explained Lee.

With a daily production capacity of 10,000 bowls of coconut jelly, deliveries usually see some 500 coconuts per order, but two years ago, when Lee was just starting out, he ordered close to some 8,000 fruits at one shot, half of which went towards his experiments!.  “It is not cost effective to buy the fruits in small quantities so I usually order them by the lorry-load. “There was a shortage then so I had to import them from Thailand and India, thus the large number,” recalled Lee, who fortunately, still made a profit from the leftover coconuts thanks to his background in wholesale baking ingredients. At present, Lee has two outlets in Pearl Point Shopping Center and Scott Garden Shopping Mall, manned by four employees. He is planning to approach dessert cafes to market his jelly powders and is eyeing export markets such as Japan, the Middle East and Europe. With its reputation of being the “tree of life”, even coconut shells have become items of value as home accessories.

Sharon Chai, 56, of Red Envelope, a home d├ęcor boutique at Ikano Power Center, has been selling coconut shell products for more than 10 years. She said despite the fact coconut shells are a readily available and a surplus commodity in Malaysia she has to export her coconut shell cutlery and crockery from Indonesia and the Philippines. “I have tried going to the east coast to source locally, but for the same polished bowl which I can get for as low as RM10 from the Philippines, I would have to pay RM20 to a local craftsman. “And there is the issue of quantity. Ideally, I would like order up to 20 pieces per design, but the local craftsman will only agree to do 10, citing production difficulties,” revealed Chai. But she remains confident there is a demand for coconut shell products. “Bowls, lids, spoons, plates, incense holders, even buckles are some of the items that can come out of coconut shells. “What we need now are dedicated crafts people to make this a reality. The appeal is in the natural look which is highly appreciated by tourists and even locals,” said Chai, who is confident of inspiring a revival. The original articls from webs. news/community/ 2013/01/03/ cashing-in-on-coconuts/. Thanks for readings...

M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Coconut Experts at DoA,
Jorak Coconut Seedling Production Stationr,
Jorak, Ledang, Johor,
(12 RabiulAwal 1439H)
Posted fro MAS Golden Lounge,
Kuching, Sarawak.