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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

BLOCK CHAIN TECHNOLOGY - SUPPLY CHAIN

Blockchain technology has the potential to increase the efficiency of transactions of all the items above. The application of Blockchain technology offers complete, transparent, reliable and timely data that would elevate consumers’ trust towards food products and allow data acquisition by the public and private sector without delay. The latter may help food industry players to effectively respond to market demand and the government to better formulate agricultural policy. Detailed examples of how Blockchain technology may improve the food supply chain are discussed below:

A. Food safety and traceability 
Food safety and traceability is a major concern for consumers. The greater transparency that Blockchain provides facilitates prompt identification of contamination sources, thereby saving time, money and possibly lives, in the event of a foodborne disease outbreak. Besides, consumers would have greater knowledge of the sources of their food, the farmers and the processors. This could prevent issues related to false labelling and fraud. San Francisco-based Ripe.io is an example of a company that offers Blockchain based solutions to map the food journey along the supply chain from farmers to distributors and consumers. London-based Provenance also offers similar solutions. In Malaysia’s paddy and rice industry, Blockchain technology could be applied to trace the authenticity of organic rice and artisanal rice such as the Bario rice. Even though geographical indication (GI) is registered for Bario rice, consumers are not fully protected from false labelling. In the case Cooper et al. (1997) as cited in Van Roekel et al. (2002). Geographical indication (GI) is “a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin”. Definition by World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (n.d.). where GI has been falsely used to deceive the public, any aggrieved party would need to file an action at the High Court (Intellectual Property), which is costly. Besides, this traceability solution is also useful in ensuring the HACCP and Good Manufacturing Practice adherence in milling and product manufacturing. 


B. Improving the transparency of payment transactions 
For small farmers, securing fair prices as well as being paid on time are issues they face since they depend on intermediaries to market their products. Companies such as Agri-Ledger aim to help farmers retain a bigger share of their crop value by leveraging on Blockchain technology. The four key issues targeted by Agri-Ledger are: trust deficit among players in the agri-food market; lack of audit trail on transactions; paper-based systems that are error-prone; and lack of transparency regarding the market and price information. Australia-based Blockgrain runs on the same premise of increasing supply chain efficiency although their focus is not limited to small farmers. As of late, growing dissatisfaction among paddy farmers and millers was reported in the media. One of the grievances noted was the alleged unfair increase of deduction rates that entails reduced compensation to farmers for their harvest, which is denied by buyers. Blockchain technology, in conjunction with other technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), has the potential to bridge the gap in trust between farmers and millers such as in the case mentioned. This may ensure transparency on the deduction rate and other relevant information and ultimately ensure fair payment to everyone along the supply chain. 

C. Encourage the adoption of good agricultural practices
Limited capital and incentives are some of the factors that inhibit the adoption of good agricultural practice among farmers. Indigo carries out an initiative to pay farmers a premium for an end-to-end production contract that is based on using certain products, following specific agricultural.  Deduction rate is the percentage of the product that is rejected due to impurities.  Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of interconnection of electronic devices via the Internet practices, and providing traceability data on the production and movement of the grain. This initiative is built upon three objectives that are to increase farm profitability, to provide access to healthy food and the right information for consumers, and to preserve the environment. Demeter. life conducts a similar initiative through micro investment for farmland in which a community of investors defines the rules of production, hence ensuring quality farming. In 2016, only 2.3% of the total number of farms in Malaysia were registered under MyGAP. This low take-up rate may be explained by the limited incentives and awareness among the farmers to commit to MyGAP certification requirements and lack of consumer awareness regarding farm-level certifications. Having Blockchain to show that a food product uses raw material derived from responsible farming, can provide confidence to the consumers about the purchased product, as well as improve food safety and environmental responsibility. 

D. Better market information 
Farmers may benefit from greater market access. Companies such as Agri Digital offer seamless communication and connection with all players in the industry, which means farmers can directly connect with consumers to better understand their preferences. Another company, Agri Ledger, aims to build the world’s largest network of small farmers and cooperatives based on Blockchain’s features that allow strangers across boundaries to establish trust and accountability without the need for intermediaries. As an example to show that farmers are reactive to market information, a study investigated farmers’ shift from white rice farming towards fragrant rice farming (of the MRQ74 variety). One of the factors motivating farmers to cultivate the new variety is the expected rise in demand for fragrant rice consumption as well as the high price of fragrant rice in the market64. With the application of Blockchain technology that provides faster and more accurate transmission of market information, farmers may likely respond more effectively. In this respect, Blockchain technology can be applied, for instance, to creating a system that provides information to industry players on the retail prices of different types of rice (including demand for organic rice). This would help farmers make better market decisions and give them greater access to the global market. THANKS.

By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronoomist,
Precint 11, Putrajaya,
WP Putrajaya,
Malaysia.

(2 Ramadan 1440H).

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

DATA - THE IMPORTANT IN AGRIFOOD INDUSTRY


Why is data important in the agri-food industry?.  The agri-food supply chain especially in developing economies such as Malaysia can be characterised as the interaction of black boxes where each segment of the supply chain has limited information and control over the previous and/or subsequent segment. Globalisation brings about an additional set of challenges as the supply chain transcends national boundaries and jurisdictions. Food fraud and mislabelling cause loss not only to consumers but also to the exporting industry as a whole. For example, in 2016, the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed shrimps and prawns from Peninsular Malaysia on “import alert” over the alleged presence of nitrofurans and/or chloramphenicol residues in the seafood. The move implies that the FDA has the right to detain imports of shrimps and prawns from Peninsular Malaysia without inspection53. This is despite Malaysia banning the use of these drugs in aquaculture farming. Being one of the top ten exporters of prawns and shrimps to the US, the import alert caused anxiety among Malaysia’s shrimp producers. From a different side of the story, according to Larry Olmsted, the author of “Real Food, Fake Food”, because of the US ban on Chinese-farmed shrimps due to the presence of unapproved drugs, some suppliers have been shipping their drug-stained shrimps to Malaysia. These shrimps are then relabelled as Malaysian products for the US 52 A node is a participant’s computer connected to the Blockchain. 

This claim is however are difficult to substantiate without complete and transparent data of the shrimp supply chain right from the producer to the consumer. A transparent supply chain data in Malaysia may also benefit the premium food sub-sector. In 2011, China’s authorities blamed imports from Malaysia regarding the discovery of high nitrite levels found on red bird’s nest. This allegation, however, baffled Malaysia’s bird nest exporters since Malaysia had never been known to be a producer of red bird’s nest55. According to How Ban (2011), what could have happened was that some players in the industry might have sold fake bird’s nest claimed to be from Malaysia for a quick profit. Beside bird’s nest, fake Musang King durians also captured the attention of the Ministry of Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (now the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs). A few traders in the country have been found selling durians of a different variety from Musang King durians to foreign tourists as they are an easy target56. The availability of a complete and transparent food supply chain data updated in real-time could help prevent false labelling. Aside from preventing fraud and the mislabelling of food, complete agri food data are also necessary for effective policymaking and monitoring especially for regulated food such as rice. In the US, most grains and oilseeds produced are traceable from farm production to consumption57. This sort of data, however, is unavailable for Malaysia’s rice industry, and other food industries for that matter. Thus, it is difficult to know, for instance, the productivity and profitability of a particular farm, profit margin across the supply chain, and the appropriate farmgate and consumer price level, let alone to determine the compliance with MyGAP, HACCP and Good Manufacturing Practice.

Supply chain management involves not only the transfer of products from producers to consumers but also58: (1) Payments, credit and working capital; (2) Technology and advanced techniques; (3) Ownership rights; and (4) Information on consumer demand. Blockchain technology has the potential to increase the efficiency of transactions of all the items above. The application of Blockchain technology offers complete, transparent, reliable and timely data that would elevate consumers’ trust towards food products and allow data acquisition by the public and private sector without delay. The latter may help food industry players to effectively respond to market demand and the government to better formulate agricultural policy. That's how data is important... Thanks.

By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Precint 11, Putrajaya,
WP Putrajaya, 
Malaysia.

(1 Ramadan 1440H).

Thursday, January 2, 2020

BANANA VARIETY IN MALAYSIA

BANANA (Musa acuminata) are tropical fruit that grown in Malaysia wiith ana area of 35,200 hectare with annual production 376,800 metric tan (Source: Food Crop Statistic, Dept of Agriculture Malaysia 2018).  For me if you’re bananas about bananas, then being in Malaysia will definitely feed your addiction. There are so many varieties here that even locals have a hard time naming them all. From tiny dwarf-like ones to giants as big as your arm, bananas should come with a manual. Here’s Butter kicap’s list of popular Malaysian bananas. Some are good eaten when ripe, most are fantastic deep-fried and all make delicious fried mashed banana balls (Cekodok) when over-ripe.

Pisang Raja
With a bright yellow skin, sweet flavour and smooth texture, Pisang Raja can be eaten fresh or fried. Pisang Raja or King Banana are yellowish in skin colour upon ripe. Pisang AwakSweet and fleshy, it’s best as fried bananas or pisang goreng or made into Lepat Pisang and Pengat. Pisang Raja UdangCan be eaten ripe or made into other typical Malaysian desserts such as Pengat Pisang, Lempeng or Cekodok when over-riped. This variety of banana is difficult to find and looks particularly unique due to its purple to rusty orange skin. The flesh itself is similar in colour to other varieties of banana with a sweet and slightly sour flavour.

Pisang Lemak Manis
This variety of banana is petite, bright yellow, sweet and fleshy. It is good eaten ripe. This variety can be planted and will be fully grown within four months. I Love to eat fresh piang lemak manis after meal. Rather than that tere are Pisang Tanduk (Horn Banana) and this giant of a banana is fantastic to make as Pengat Pisang. With a slightly sour flavour, it balances perfectly with the sweetness of dark brown sugar and the saltiness in coconut. Similar ti Pisang Tanduk are Pisang Helang in which this banana is also rather huge. The difference is in its flavour and colour it is not sour and the flesh is pale compared to the darker yellow of the Pisang Tanduk. This banana is also good to make Pengat especially for those who do not like the hint of the sourness of Pisang Tanduk.

Pisang Nangka 
Unlike other bananas, this variety remains green in colour even when ripe. Once it turns yellow, the banana is considered over-ripe and the flesh too soft to be eaten. At this point you can mash it up to make Cekodok. This variety is good when battered and deep-fried. Similar to Pisang Tanduk, the flavour is sweet and slightly sour. Other things you can make with Pisang Nangka include Pengat Pisang, Lepat Pisang and Pisang Rebus. Next popular banana for fresh consumption are Pisang Rastali. This banana is small in size thus making it perfect to enjoy after a meal. Delicious when ripe, Pisang Rastali is commonly enjoyed after a meal as dessert. While the skin is not as pretty, often peppered with dark spots, it is thin, with a wonderful aroma and sweet flesh inside.

Pisang Emas are a type of banana petite in size, Pisang Emas is also commonly eaten after a meal once ripe. When over-ripe, you will find that thew32 skin sticks to the flesh inside. At this point, it is best made into Cekodok. Next is Pisang Abu where many love making a curry with the green variety. If the banana is over-ripe, it can be fried. This variety of banana is not usually eaten ripe due to its mild flavour and often rubbery texture. Pisang Berangan are also a variety is delicious as Goreng Pisang. It was sweet, with a lovely aroma, this banana is great enjoyed as a dessert when ripe. Its firm flesh makes it perfect for deep-frying. Some banana recipes you’ll love. Here are some banana treats and the best bananas to use for it. You can probably use different varieties of bananas but these are Butterkicap’s favourites. Type of banana used for food in Malaysia are as follows. Curry Cooking prefered Pisang Abu, and PIsang Lemak Manis, For Pengat prefered Pisang Tanduk and Pisang Helang, for Lepat Pisang preferred Pisang Awak and at last for Goreng Pisang preferred Pisang Awak, Pisang Berangan or Pisang Raja. Thatl all folk!!..
By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Precint 11, Putrajaya,
Federal Teritory,
Malaysia.
(9 December 2019).
Cekodok
Rebus – Pisang Awak

    Monday, December 16, 2019

    HOW MUCH RICE CULTIVARED IN MALAYSIA?

    I am asked about how much rice cultivated in Malaysia. The best answers is to check the Ministry of Agriculture statistic annually for the answers. But actually in the paddy and rice industry, it is important to know the actual total area planted with paddy and the growth stage for each paddy plot. This helps to provide accurate measurement of yield, land use prediction, farm monitoring, and to predict the expected harvest. In addition, accurate and up-to-date paddy data are especially important during events such as natural disasters to allow the authorities to predict yield loss and end-ofseason harvest. Furthermore, it helps avoide leakages in the input subsidies; whereby ghost lands can be prevented20. This, in turn, allows prompt and effective policy and management decisions as well as appropriate downstream market responses. According to the Rancangan Fizikal Negara ke-3, the allocation of land for paddy cultivation was designated as kawasan jelapang padi or granary areas. Initially, there were eight granary areas, which have now been expanded to 10. The largest granary area is MADA. Recent data made available is on 201621 whereby a total parcel of 100,603 Ha in MADA was planted with paddy, producing a total of 1.1m MT of paddy at a yield of 5.3 MT/Ha. The data needed to generate this information involves on-site checks and individual information from the farmers which can be laborious, costly, prone to error and time-consuming. KRI explored the use of satellite technology to enable quick, accurate and transparent determination of the total planted area. Publicly-available satellite images covering the MADA area from ESA Sentinel-1A satellite were analysed22. The captured images were taken between March and August for the years 2015 and 2016. This corresponds to the paddy planting season (Musim 1) in the MADA area. 

    The paddy plant is a unique short-term crop with a maturity period of 90 - 140 days post germination. Within this period, it undergoes physically distinct life-stages that can be seen in two-week intervals. On the contrary, the physical characteristics of a permanent water body, such as a lake, a road, an oil palm estate, a forest, a home or a football field stay the same over the same two-week intervals. Therefore, theoretically, a satellite image shooting a light beam (of a certain wavelength) over a cultivated paddy plot should be able to detect the physical changes of a paddy plant over time and have it differentiated from a non-paddy surface. The use of this technology in paddy cultivation is demonstrated through the use of Sentinel-1A by researchers in IRRI23. KRI researchers stacked several Sentinel 1-A satellite images of the same MADA area that are about 2 weeks apart for each planting season. In the stacked image, colours indicate changes in the land surface area over time, while whitegrey areas are surfaces that did not change over the same period. This work is currently being written for a technical publication. In due course, it is hoped that the public can access the data from the KRI website and expand the use of satellite imagery for live updates of paddy cultivation. That is an advance technology to grow rice in future!. Thanks.

    By,
    M Anem,
    Senior Agronomist,
    Tamana Cendana, Bandar Melaka,
    Melaka, Malaysia.
    (30 Syaaban 1440H).



    Saturday, December 14, 2019

    MALAYSIA - TALK ABOUT RICE INDUSTRY

    Our Rice industry in Malaysia considered an important sector by government. In 2016, Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was RM1,196.4b, whereby the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors contributed only RM106.5 billion (8.9%)16. Within agriculture, palm oil was the biggest contributor at RM41.9 billion (40.2%), while paddy contributed only RM2.4billion (2.3%). Indeed, palm oil has always been a bigger contributor to the national GDP and this can be seen over time, as the oil palm harvested area has increased tremendously while the paddy harvested area remained relatively constant.

    Despite the paddy and rice industry having a small contribution towards the nation’s GDP, it has garnered much interest from policymakers given its complex relationship with food security, culture and socio-economic factors. This is motivated by the increasing national demand for rice at the back of a constant size of the harvested area. In fact, the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook report projected a widening gap between Malaysia’s production and consumption of rice. For domestic paddy production, Malaysia relies primarily on ten key granary areas for its supply of paddy. In 2016, the nation produced a total of 2.7m MT of paddy. Out of this, 2.0m MT or 74.1% of the total paddy produced was from the granary areas. Muda Argricultural Development Authority (MADA), in the Northern Peninsular of Malaysia, produced about 38.8% of the total national paddy production and is known as the ‘Rice Bowl’ of the nation, followed by Kemubu Agricultural Development Authority (KADA) at 9.1% and Integrated Agricultural Development Area (IADA) Barat Laut Selangor (BLS) at 8.1%. Given the differences in their locations (different environmental conditions), farm practices and various other factors, these granary areas have different levels of farm yield. The national average yield is around 4.0 MT/Ha with high performing areas such as IADA Barat Laut Selangor, IADA Pulau Pinang, IADA Ketara and MADA, having yields above 5.0 MT/Ha. On the contrary, granaries such as IADA Pekan and Rompin are among the low yield producers, with yields below 3.0 MT/Ha. Thanks.


    By,
    M Anem,
    Senior Agronomist,
    Taman Cendana, Bukit Beruang,
    Melaka, Malaysia.
    (30 Syaaban 1440H).

    Monday, December 9, 2019

    DRONES FOR SPRAYING ARE SAFE

    An agricultural drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle applied to farming in order to help increase crop production and monitor crop growth. Through the use of advanced sensors and digital imaging capabilities, farmers are able to use these drones to help them gather a richer picture of their fields. The POLA-V15S (PV15S) is assembled locally in Malaysia using top grade components and DJI’s flagship flight controller (See photo above). The PV15S has been built with operational efficiency in mind by pilots with years of experience with crop spraying, and has been tested locally to achieve upwards of 3Ha/hr of coverage. It features a 15L tank with variable spray rate and interchangeable nozzles, and is fully autonomous without the need of expert piloting skills to achieve optimal results. Through field experience, the team at Poladrone recognises that after-sales support and warranty is the key to a successful crop spraying business. As such, we provide a comprehensive training course for 3-5 days with any purchase of a drone. All our drones comes with a one (1) year manufacturer warranty on all electronics components, supported by a 20,000 square feet manufacturing facility in Selangor. We promise to hold ready stock of ALL spare parts locally, enabling us to replace or repair any broken down in an extremely short time frame vs imported products.

    In other reports from Alor Setar, Kedah, the use of drones for aerial spraying of the pesticides in paddy fields will not harm the environment, human and animals, said Muda Agriculture Development Authority (Mada) chairman Datuk Othman Aziz today. He said Mada has taken into consideration the impact in the use of drone for aerial spraying and assured that it will be carried out in a controlled environment and manned by trained handlers. Othman said Mada would begin using drone to spray pesticides in the coming planting season that is expected to begin between this month and April. “The drone will fly between two and three metres from the ground and within the paddy plot so the pesticide will no spread elsewhere,” he said to reporters after launching the drone at MadaCorp Agroservices Sdn Bhd here today. Othman was commenting on a statement by Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) which has voiced its objection on the use of drones for pesticides spraying. CAP president S M Mohamed Idris had claimed that aerial spraying of pesticide will cause serious air pollution and causes other health issues associated with pesticides more easily and widely. Othman pointed out that Mada has conducted trial run for the drone in Pendang and it showed that the pesticide was evenly spread in the paddy area. He added the trial run also showed that the aerial spraying is well controlled and did not affect the surrounding area. Othman said for the pilot project, Mada will be using 10 drones on 2,000 hectares of paddy land under its purview. Thank You...

    By,
    M Anem,
    Senior Agronomist,
    Taman Cendana, Malacca City,
    Melaka, Malaysia.
    (1 Muharram 1440H).

    Monday, November 4, 2019

    FARMERS WITH IMPORTED CHHILIES AND LOCAL CHILLIES

    IMPORTED CHILLIES (Capsicum annum) from neighbouring countries are being favoured over homegrown chillies, leaving many farmers worried, reported local media included Sinar Harian. The daily said farmers were suffering losses as prices dipped due to the competition from chillies brought in from overseas. Muhammad Termizi Setopa, 34, said he had to travel from Jempol in Negri Sembilan to Kuala Langat in Selangor, regularly known as the Kuala Langat Farmers Organisation (PPK) bought chillies at a better price than in his hometown. He said that if he were to sell his chillies in Negri Sembilan, he could only sell these at between RM3 and RM3.50 a kilo. Another farmer, Ekmal Subhi, said that he had suffered as much as RM300,000 in losses in the past. The 37-year-old said that there should be labels that differentiated between local and imported chillies. “It is disappointing as local chillies are premium quality,” he said. Kuala Langat PPK chairman Abdul Razak Khasbullah said that he had seen as much as a 50% dip in demand for local chillies from supermarkets and grocery shops. Abdul Razak said that the lower prices of imported chillies were affecting local farmers’ ability to compete in the market. 

    On other, a company named GrasiCili that was owned by technopreneur turned agropreneur Munir Asim Abdullah, aims to grow a total of 65,000 premium chilli plants but needs the help of fellow Sarawakians to achieve the target. Munir said the target is aimed at having sustainable or constant supply of grade ‘A’ chillies for export starting next year. The nation’s overdependence on import of chillies - more than 45,000 metric tonnes per year valued at some RM145 million - suggests that export of premium chillies would be a big source of income to any farmer, he said, referring to a recent news article about the monetary potential in the chilli business. He said: “If all of my members or associates plant according to GrasiCili SOP (standard operating procedure or methodology) we can achieve the target and improve on export of Sarawak’s own premium chillies. Right now, Sarawak perhaps has 5,000 chilli plants but these include those of grade B.” The difference between grade A and B chilli fruits, he pointed out, is that grade A chilli plants are grown inside plastic poly bags containing ‘sabut’ (coir) while grade B chilli plants are grown directly on the soil. He said only Grade A chillies have high demand in the export market and for one to grow grade A chillies, one needs to ensure that the farm is clean and free of weeds and animals like cats, dogs and chickens. He suggested that one way to prevent weed is to use silver shine plastic sheets to cover the soil. “The farm must be very clean. And on top of that, GrasiCili farm uses fertigation method and not using soil. But one thing for sure, the chilli is cash crop for farmers particularly those in the rural areas and those with land. A small plot will be fine for a start,” Munir said when met after he conducted training for 25 members of Kelab Rekreasi Kampung Pla Samarahan at his farm in Rapak Penyau in Pantu Sri Aman on Saturday. At the moment, GrasiCili has 130 members but is growing in membership, he said, adding that ‘Grasi’ in Iban means ‘Giant’ and if the farmers follow his method there is no reason for them not to succeed. The GrasiCili farm started with a thousand plants and will be growing in size but its main intention is to assist rural farmers raise their income. Munir, 46, is an Iban from Rapak Penyau Pantu, Sri Aman. He received his primary school education at Chung Hua Pantu and Chung Hua Bintulu and secondary school education at Maktab Rendah Sains Mara in Perlis. He graduated from University of Hartford in 1996 with an electrical engineering degree and started business on the same month after his graduation.

    Munir is also an expert in automation of business process, ICT system, security system and web-based application design and has been involved in developing ‘Usahawan Micro B40’ in West Malaysia since 2010 with government agencies Teraju and AIM. Last year, he decided to change his status from technoprenuer to agroprenuer. “Due to my interest in modern technology in farming, actively doing research the best, easy, fast and high market value type of chillies that could be exported to other countries. After visiting chilli farmers in Peninsular Malaysia and attending meetings and seminars by Agrobank, Ministry of Agriculture, I started to plan my comprehensive cluster farmers in my village (Rumah Peter Rapak Penyau in Pantu Sri Aman) with my own budget and resources,” he said. “The brand that we plan to push for export is GrasiCili and within three months, we managed to draw 128 farmers to register with GrasiCili. Grasicili not only gives training but also brings trainees for site visit, helping them set up business, advising them on marketing and opening a collection centre for members. We also buy chillies from our members and create the market, both local and export.” GrasiCili produces good quality or grade A six-inch long chillies for export. “With modern farming in place, the quality will be much better and there should be less usage of pesticide compared to traditional type of farming,” said Munir. During the launch of the Malaysia Book of Records in Kuala Langat, Selangor for the record harvest of chillies in one day, Munir was the only one from Sarawak attending it. “I was there to witness the event and I am proud to say that I was the only representative from Sarawak. I am now wishing that the next record would be set in Sarawak with the harvesting of chillies from 200,000 poly bags by end of 2018. That will translate into producing six metric tonnes of chillies per day,” he said. ThankYou.

    By,
    M Anem,
    Snior Agronomist,
    Jalan Padi Ria 11,
    Bandar Baru UDA,
    Johor Bahru,
    Johor, Malaysia.
    (3 Muharram 1440H).