Friday, September 23, 2022

COCONUT POTENTIAL PRODUCT IN MALAYSIA

COCONUT
(Cocos nucifera) in Malaysia are an important crop grown since long time ago. It is time for the local coconut industry to shine and having been overshadowed by oil palm for decades as claimed by industry observers. This is being driven by declining palm oil prices in long years ago and rising demand for coconut-derived products. But there are many challenges. For one, local coconuts cannot compete with imports in terms of price and scale. According to news reports earlier in this year 2020 in which the local coconut suppliers were calling for the government to regulate the import of coconuts. In their view whereby the influx of cheap coconuts from countries such as Indonesia and Thailand was currently hampering their businesses. The lack of competitiveness and perceived insufficient supply is due to many farmers choosing to plant the more lucrative oil palm instead of coconut trees. For me the coconuts are Malaysia’s fourth largest industrial crop behind oil palm, rubber and rice with most of the large plantations found in Sabah and Sarawak. According to a report by the Department of Agriculture Malaysia (DOA) that the country is among the top 10 coconut producers in the world although production fell between 2014 and 2016. Total acreage of coconut plantations had fallen from about 120,000ha in 2005 to 85,000ha recently. Meanwhile for the palm oil acreage and prices rose from 2006 to 2012 and recently from 2021 - 2022. Prices went on a general downward trend (except for a spike in 2017) due to oversupply and weak demand from top buying nations. From the report recently, prices were impacted by the EU’s decision to avoid palm oil due to concerns of forest clearing and environmental degradation directly linked to oil palm cultivation. This had serious consequences as the region was the world’s second largest importer of palm oil. The declining palm oil prices have caused smallholders to suffer a lot, especially those who only have 1ha to 2ha of land. This article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" I share hoe the potential of coconut product in the industry in Malaysia.

The local coconut industry has its fair share of players that is from the big listed companies and decades-old businesses to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and even micro-businesses that sell coconut milk in wet markets. Linaco Sdn Bhd among big players ini producing coconut product located in Batu Pahat, Johore. This company processed more than 25 million local nuts and mostly are also imported from Indonesia. Their product are for domestic and export for more than 20 countries worldwide. They became interested in the business since they realised that the process of extracting coconut milk in wet markets was not very hygienic long time ago. They also found that there were ready solutions in the market to address this problem with modern mechanised equipment. The company as I visited many time come up with a custom-designed machine for the pasteurisation of coconut in which kills bacteria and eliminates contamination that can come from human hands. The traditional method requires a person to open a coconut than grate it using a machine and pack the grated coconut by hand an less hygienic.  The moment coconut goes into the machine for the milk to be extracted from the meat currently there is no human contact. It goes through pasteurisation and then it is chilled very quickly so the bacteria does not really multiply during that period. Nowadays those people in micro-business such as those who sell nasi lemak or cendol had to buy coconut milk from wet markets in the morning and store it throughout the day in which it risking spoilage. Fresh coconut milk is sensitive and once it is exposed or not stored well it will start to spoil four or five hours later. For cendol sellers whose business can be dependent on the weather and purchasing coconut milk ahead of time can lead to losses if they are unable to use it that day.

The Linaco factory that mechanises coconut milk production in Batu Pahat, Johor more than ten years ago. This innovation lengthens the storage time through pasteurisation as a method commonly used in many industries to sterilise food and extend shelf life. Recently they launched an app that enables their customers to order coconut milk on-the-go from 4am to 6pm, which will be delivered by a local rider. They serve a lot of small stalls, such as those that sell nasi lemak and cendol and also mamak restaurants. Cendol sellers find their product as handy because if it is a rainy day so that they can cancel their order. They do not have to bear the risk of wasting coconut milk. If they purchase it from the market in the morning and it rains in the afternoon, they cannot keep it overnight. Most of them do not even try to keep it refrigerated overnight because it will not be fresh. But when they deal with us, they find it very convenient because we deliver it whenever they need it. The stall operator just have to order three hours before Santan Product final delivery time. 

The market for coconut milk is huge. It is heavily used in delicacies in the Malay and Indian communities, Ling points out. Santanku does not see itself capturing the whole market either and since “some of them still prefer to buy coconut milk produced using the traditional method in wet markets”. Those sellers have their market and we have ours. We are targeting those who want convenience at no extra cost. According to the founders, they are the first in the market to offer an app-based delivery service. Now, the service is available in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, Melaka and Penang. The app was their biggest success. It was not cheap to develop it but we took a risk and it is starting to pay off. Our aim is to cover the whole of Malaysia. If you have a restaurant anywhere in the country, as long as you need santan (coconut milk), we can reach out to you through the app. They hope that in six months, all their orders can be made via the app. Their customer base is huge at the moment and across Malaysia the company have about 1,500 customers. That is quite a large number considering that we have just started. The company will be expanding to Alor Setar in which every day, a fresh supply of coconut milk is delivered from its factory in Johor to all the other locations to be kept in cold storage. Company try to keep it as fresh as possible. But because of the way we produce the milk in which it can maintain its freshness for three to four days. Company have invested heavily in the technology to make sure our customers get a really good product. Santanku does not intend to compete with the big coconut manufacturers. Instead, Ling wants to focus on serving the micro, small and medium enterprises, particularly the stalls and mamak restaurants. The founders of the company are determined to provide a consistent supply of high-quality fresh coconut milk to these businesses at no extra cost. This means that regardless of the fluctuations in coconut prices in the market, the company will sell its products at the same price. Company target is to supply to the majority of people at no extra cost or lower if we can. But of course, we have our challenges too. Sometimes, we may have a season when the local coconuts are too expensive that company have to look for coconuts elsewhere. They also need to control the cost of raw materials to ensure that the price of the end product stays the same and the quality is not compromised, he adds. If everything can be sourced in Malaysia, why not? Company aim is to help local people and if the government has a big push for the coconut industry then company quite sure we will be able to see a big change in three to five years. With the government support coconut growers in adopting new technology in farming practices to bring costs down so that downstream players like him can source more coconuts from local farmers. Company also hopes that the government can educate those who have been producing coconut milk using traditional methods so they can improve the process. A lot of people still rely heavily on labour. This is where foreign labour is needed but when the government tightens its control of foreign labour the cause are  the cost will be passed on to the consumer. They need so much manpower because the technology and education are not there. Apart from fresh coconut milk many customers can buy kerisik and other coconut products via the app. Company are considering adding other products such as cili giling, upon requests from their customers. Company envisions being able to utilise this network to deliver local delicacies produced by micro-businesses throughout the country. Thanks...

By,
M Anem,
Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(July 2022).

Saturday, September 10, 2022

MALAYSIAN PROIRITY TO ENHANCE OIL PALM INDUSTRY

THERE ARE FOUR PRIORITY AREA
to enhance oil palm industry in Malaysia identified. The prominent palm oil experts and scientists converged in Bangi recently to discuss and find practical solutions to improve the industry's efficiency, yield performance, sustainability and food safety and quality. During the two-day Mini Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) meeting, the members comprising eminent scientists and experts in the oil palm industry from within and outside Malaysia, focused on four priority areas namely food safety and quality, sustainable development, mechanisation and automation, and yield performance in order to meet the global demand of palm oil. With expertise and vast knowledge in the oils and fats, they looked in detail into strategic research projects and issues such as sustainable development and finding practical solutions to reconcile differences between the industry and the critics. This article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" blog rewrite about the four priority areas to enhance oil palm industry in Malaysia as reported by NST.

They also provided advices to researchers on R&D solutions, development of better planting materials, ways to address labour shortage issues, the development of new uses of palm oil, introduction of higher specifications of crude palm oil with separate branding and value enhancement from by-products.  The PAC was formed since the establishment of MPOB with the aim of obtaining the views and opinions of experts in the field related to oil palm development to improve the achievement of oil palm research. To improve efficiency in the oil palm plantations, PAC members are finding ways to effectively design and develop revolutionary technologies and innovations for upstream operations. This includes innovative ways to harvest and process oil palm fruits and enhancing mechanisation, precision agriculture and automation MPOB has developed more than 40 types of machinery and mechanised equipment for the use of plantation operations including oil palm harvesting tools. We also looked into ways to improve yield performance as the national average yield has remained stagnant in comparison with other vegetable crops although the production of palm oil has increased over the years, there is a need to implement advanced biotechnological, breeding and cloning tools that will enable the development of superior planting materials, which will improve disease resistance, higher oil quality traits, resilient to climate change and most importantly, increase yield. We need to adopt the best agronomic practices to further improve efficiency and productivity. On sustainable development, our focus areas are environmental sustainability, value addition and socioeconomics issues. Various issues and concerns have been raised concerning land-use change, biodiversity and conservation efforts, deforestation as well as pollution of water, air and land. The livelihood of smallholders is also impacted by the increasingly new or stringent regulations and certifications on sustainability, Good Agricultural Practices, and hence, they face difficulties in meeting the demand of the industry. We are assessing a well-balanced approach to fulfil the sustainability requirement for the oil palm industry. The meeting also discussed about the R&D solutions and recommendations to mitigate the 3-monochloro-propanediol esters (3-MCPDE) and glycidyl esters (GE) issues. MPOB has carried out many studies and trials to address the processed contaminants related to 3-MCPDE and GE in palm oil. The European Commission's proposal for different levels for 3-MCPD esters; 1.25 ppm for soft oils including palm kernel oil and 2.50 ppm for other oils including palm oil is a discrimination to palm oil as it would create an impression that palm oil has lower quality and inferior to soft oils. The issues and projects on the four areas of the country's oil palm industry – sustainable development, food safety and nutrition, mechanisation and automation and yield performance will be addressed immediately in order to improve efficiency and productivity of the oil palm industry. The writer original is Dr Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir, the director-general of Malaysian Palm Oil Board. Thanks..

By,
M Anem,
Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(May 2021).

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

MALAYSIA TARGET CATTLE FRMING IN 2025

THE MALAYSIAN government plans to double the size of land used for cattle farming to a total of 1.5 million ha to reduce the country’s dependency on ruminant imports. Veterinary Services Department DG (DVS) Datuk Dr Quaza Nizam said as an additional of 740,646ha of land currently used for oil palm plantation is expected to be integrated with the existing 734,354ha cattle farm within five years. Malaysia are depending too much on ruminant imports. The sustainability of the ruminant sector has been at an alarming rate as the production continues to decline although the consumption has stagnated. The government wants to integrate oil palm areas to be used for cattle farming within the next five years,” he told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday. He added that nowadays the additional farming areas will produce 28,463 tonnes of beef products in a year. Currently, Malaysia has 5.9 million ha of oil palm plantation with almost 72% of the total land area owned by established palm oil corporations. At present, Malaysia’s self sufficient level for ruminants, which include beef and mutton, is at 23% while the local production stood 45,353 million tonnes. Quaza Nizamuddin said the plan, which will be included in the National Agro-Food Policy 2.0, will require an extension of tax incentives to entice businesses to get involved in the ruminant production. This blog in "Anim Agriculture Technology" I rewrite a statement by Malaysian DVS Director General regarding the proposal of targeting  double cattle farming in 2025.

While government are setting the path to improve Malaysia’s cattle farming activities than farmers would need businesses to come forward and be involved in the industry. Government plan to introduce an enhanced tax incentive in which at present there are having a 10-year exemption on companies who are involved in agriculture. Perhaps, we could extend it to 15 years for cattle farming. Dr Quarza added that under the strategic plan in which the number of breeders or female cattle is expected to increase to a ratio of 20 to two against male cattle to ensure the sustainability of domestic ruminant supply.  About 227,708 of additional breeders are needed to achieve the target. The government will introduce a programme with a cost structure which allows the government to bear 70% of the cost. In 2018, Malaysia imported about RM15.72 billion worth of animal products and RM274.77 million of live animals. For exports, the revenue for livestock-based products stood at RM6 billion in the same year while live animals recorded about RM821.23 million. Meanwhile, Dr Quaza Nizamuddin said there are no cases of H5N1 bird flu detected among the chicken imports from China. He added that the Department of Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (Maqis) has established a procedure to identify if the livestock imports are contaminated with the flu. Maqis has set up its station at ports where the livestock products are checked to find whether each of the individual batches is tested positive with H5N1. The test will take three days to show their results. Before they are confirmed negative with the flu, the products are being held at the ports. Thanks.

By,
M Anim,
Kangar, Perlis,
Malaysia.
Janury 2021.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

SEAWEED DECLINE PRODUCTION IN SABAH

SEAWEED CULTIVATION
was introduced in Sabah since 1978 and has increasingly become an economically important natural resource for Malaysia, particularly for Sabah. It was known to have wide application potentials similar or even better than other commodity such as cocoa and palm oil. Two significant seaweed-based industries had started and are developing at a moderate pace. These are seaweed cultivation or farming and the production of semi refined carragenan from seaweed. Beside the government agencies focusing on socio-economy development for rural peoples, there are private local companies venturing in seaweed processing and cultivation at larger scale in Semporna. Three methods of seaweed cultivation have been widely practiced and established in Sabah namely, raft system (MKII), stake system and long line system. The long line system is being widely practiced with approximately 95% of seaweed farmers employing this method. This blog "Anim Agriculture Technology" rewrite a report from NST regarding the declining in 
Sabah's seaweed farming production on January 2021 by a reporter Avila Geraldine for all readers. 

The town of 
Semporna in Sabah are popular with seaweed farm and production. Many folks cultivating seaweed to get source of income. Sabah is seeing a tremendous decline in seaweed farming entrepreneurs due to the global economic downturn. Since Sabah is seeing a tremendous decline in seaweed farming entrepreneurs due to the global economic downturn. According to Semporna Fishermen Association chairman Salleh Abdul Salleh, there were previously 600 families involved in seaweed cultivation with a production of between 600 - 800 tonnes per month. But by January 2021 reported that there are less than 100 families and they can only produce about 200 tonnes of seaweed per month. Seaweed farmers who left the industry have ventured into other areas such as agriculture, fishing, and construction.  Those who persevered are just waiting for turtle problems (attacks) to end. They depend on other sources of income from fisheries to survive and buy necessities as he told the New Straits Times reporter. The current Covid-19 pandemic saw the seaweed industry slowing down as a result of uncertainty in market prices, added Salleh. Apart from a 50 per cent drop in prices, seaweed buyer factories are facing tough times in exporting to other countries. In the past, local seaweed farmers exported their produce to China, Germany, and the Philippines. It was a lucrative business before.

However currently the declining industry saw 95 per cent of seaweed entrepreneurs in Sabah losing their income. 
A majority of seaweed farmers are from Semporna, while others are from Tawau and Lahad Datu. Most farmers are now facing turtle attacks too. Turtles are destroying fishermen's seaweed crops because it is one of their food sources. As a result from these (attacks), seaweed gets damaged and fall to the seabed. Seaweed also gets damaged due to diseases such as moss and 'ais-ais' (stem rot) as well as other factors such as the weather. Salleh said Malaysia was still far behind in development in the seaweed industry as it relies on conventional manpower methods instead of technology (See photo above). They see countries such as Indonesia, Taiwan, and Germany using high technology to harvest seaweed but in Malaysia, we are still depending on government allocations to provide us with platforms, ropes and boats. The government must conduct proper research and development with the cooperation of seaweed experts as well as local and foreign universities on cultivating systems and industry direction.  While noting the government should continue providing necessary allocations, he added that SIRIM Bhd should also design machines for cultivating, monitoring, harvesting and drying seaweed to speed up the production process. With this, Salleh also suggested the government to establish a board for the seaweed industry. He expressed optimistism that the industry could be rescued and intensified, and noted that the government should participate in the world seaweed organisation and find a reasonable seaweed market price according to the global market. All government plans to develop the seaweed industry must involve seaweed entrepreneurs. The 2021-2030 Seaweed Blueprint proposed by the Malaysian Fisheries Department and seaweed players must be implemented," said Salleh. He also urged Sabah Parks and the World Wildlife Fund to avoid releasing turtles near seaweed cultivation areas in order to prevent them from damaging these marine plants. Thanks. 
Source: NST

By,
M Anem,
Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(January 2021).

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

STORY OF MUSHROOM FARMERS

He was once a government officer reaching out to the community via social economic programmes including setting up cooperatives and helping the Orang Asli come up with eco-tourism products to uplift their livelihood. But then Muhamad Saidan Sanib (35) has decided to get his “hands dirty” by venturing into mushroom farming. So, two years ago, he quit his job in Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) where he had worked for 10 years. These days, he runs a small mushroom farm on a plot of land in his family home in Kg Parit Selangor, Pontian, Johor. For Muhamad Saidan observed that mushroom farming was getting popular especially among locals who lost their jobs in Singapore amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He mention that mushroom farming requires a lot of dedication as cautioned. He spoke of having to wake up as early as 4am to harvest the mushrooms so that they could be sent fresh to the markets and shops daily. Everyday his farm produces about 20kg to 30kg of fresh oyster mushrooms. Both his mushroom houses can accommodate up to 20,000 containers to grow the mushrooms. Muhamad Saidan said that 1kg could be sold for about RM15 to RM18/kg wholesale price. Besides oyster mushrooms, he also cultivates a special Kukur Mushroom variety in which sells for as much as RM65 per kg. This type of mushroom species is only cultivated when there are special orders from customer and usually at least once a month.  Muhamad Saidan said that he started mushroom farming about several years ago after his brother got into it in 2014. To help with the farming currently he hired several students to work part-time. The students help him to fill up the containers which are used to grow the mushrooms in his two mushroom houses and adding that each container takes about 45 to 100 days before the mushrooms could be harvested. He said that mushrooms in southern states like Johor were expensive in the market as the raw material to fill up the containers to cultivate them were difficult to get especially rubber wood dust. Besides the dust nowadays he also adds rice husks and lime along with the mushroom seeds for them to germinate. As for those seeking to get into mushroom farming, he said that they could set it up in a room in their own home for production. His advice is to make sure that the place is a bit damp to promote the growth of the mushrooms and adding that he plans to organise courses or talks to get people interested in mushroom farming in the future. Thanks.
News source: NSTP
By,
M Anem,
Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(January 2022).

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

VEGETABLE TECHNOLOGY SHOW AT MAHA 2022

THE VEGETABLE AND HERB AGRO-FOOD
Site at the Malaysian Agriculture, Horticulture and Agro-tourism Exhibition (MAHA) 2022 emphasises the concept of commercial of the vegetable production and urban agriculture based on the application of technology developed by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi).  Mardi Horticulture Research Centre director Dr Zulhazmi Sayuti said it included plant factory technology for the production of all-year round high-value vegetables, which was developed through Mardi's research and development. This technology is a system of vegetable production in a closed and controlled structure, without the plant being affected by changes in the weather that can affect yield, quality, as well as pest and disease attacks, which is capable of increasing yields four to 10 times per unit of space compared to conventional cultivation methods. At MAHA 2022 in which is being held at the Malaysian Agriculture Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) from today until Aug 14, Mardi is also showcasing the elevated self-watering planting system, especially for premium price leafy vegetables. The system could increase production four to six times per unit of space, compared to conventional farming, and is cost-saving in terms of fertilisers and agricultural inputs of up to 25% compared to the hydroponic method. Visitors also had the opportunity to see the Self-watering Container (SWC) technology, which is a pot planting system that consists of three parts, namely water storage, capillaries and plants to meet the needs of urban agriculture, as well as reduce the frequency of watering and control the plant size. Mardi has produced a package for lowland round cabbage production technology in 2018 and lowland cauliflower production technology in 2020 in an effort to reduce the country’s dependence on import of round cabbage. All these agriculture technologies and many more related to vegetables are on display at Laman Sayur MAHA 2022 in various forms. For example, plant factory technology with the application of LED lights as a result of Mardi's innovations is displayed on the Edibel website, while the onion production technology is exhibited in the form of Greenkit, which is Mardi's innovation for 'home gardening'. There is also a Plant Doctor Site, which also serves as a plant clinic, to showcase vegetable pest and disease management technology. All the value chains from seed producers such as East West Seed and Crop Power, the production of new varieties by Mardi (Tomato MAHA 18, Chili L5), the transfer of technology to target groups in urban agriculture (Maybank Urban Farming) are also displayed at the Vegetables and Herbs Agro-Food Site. The Vegetable and Herb Site is one of the eight agricultural sites at the exhibition. The othres are Fisheries, Livestock, Padi, Fruits, Pineapple, and Machinery Floriculture. This year’s MAHA 2022 is themed of "Food Security for the Future". Thanks...

By,
M Anem,
Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(August 2022).

Thursday, August 11, 2022

NEW PINEAPLE VARIETY SHOWN AT MAHA 2022

TWO NEWLY REGISTERED
pineapple was shown by Malaysian Pineapple Industrian Board (MPIB) at Malatsian Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism Exibition 2022 at Laman Nanas, MAEPS Serdang from 4 - 14 August 2022. The t
wo new pineapple varieties namely Nanas Cobek (AC13) and Nanas Crystal Honey (AC14) in which will provide more options to farmers. From the report that the Cobek and Crystal Honey pineapple varieties are priced between RM3 and RM4 per kg while the retail price can reach up to RM6 per kg depending on the quality of the fruit. Those wanting to have a feel of pineapple farming should head for the Agro Food Nanas site or Laman Nanas at the Malaysian Agriculture, Horticulture and Agro-tourism Exhibition (Maha) 2022 so that they are able to familiar about pineapple industry in Malaysia.  Director of the Central Region Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (LPNM) Muhamad Yusni Ramelan said it was one of the efforts taken by the agency to share knowledge on pineapple farming with visitors thus developing the people’s interest in the industry. Many vivitors at Laman Nanas are happy and exited at an area spanning two acres for pineapple planting involving the seven varieties grown in the country including such popular varieties such as Josapine (AC5), MD2 (AC9) and Yankee (AC6). Many visitors also taught on how to determine the age of a pineapple tree. There is also a nursery plot that will provide information about the types of pineapple crown that are used to grow a pineapple plant. For this year’s 2022 edition, MPIB introduced a showcase an innovative pineapple farming method carried out at night. The method that uses solar energy is a part of the MPIB’s transformation efforts in optimising renewable energy sources. Laman Nanas is also received more 100,000 visitors during the 11 days of the programme and generate over RM1.5 million in sales. It also feature 12 exhibitors comprising entrepreneurs as well as small and medium enterprises (SMEs) under MPIB that produce various pineapple-based products. Other interesting activities organised at Laman Nanas are Pineapple Hunt, guess the weight of fruit contest, a cooking competition, sharing sessions by successful LPNM entrepreneurs as well as cooking demonstrations by celebrities and LPNM chefs.  The earliest 1,000 visitors to Laman Nanas have the chance to receive a chicken and a pineapple. Thanks...

By,
M Anem,
Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(August 2022).