Friday, July 23, 2021

SEAWEED CULTIVATION AT SABAH

TALK ABOUT SEAWEED CULTIVATION
that was introduced in Sabah since 1978 and has planned for 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 was due to the facts that the long line system is more economical and practically easy to handle compared to other system. Kappaphycus alverazii is the most common species and widely farmed in Sabah beside Euchema spinosom in small percentage. Sabah is the sole producer for seaweed in Malaysia. GDP in year 2002 was RM21.16 Billion whereby fisheries sector contributed 3.2% of the total GDP. Total production of dried seaweed in 2002 was 2,562.49 MT with the total wholesale value approximately RM 4.4 million. Total export for dried seaweed from Sabah in 2002 was 1,750 MT by weight and RM14 million by value. Most of dried seaweed production in 2002 exported to the United Kingdom (65.5%), Chile (13.0%), Korea (8.0%), Japan (6.0%) and other countries (7.5%). The main issues and challenges facing the seaweed industry in Sabah in particular and in Malaysia in general will be discussed in this paper. Major programmes are in placed to boost the seaweed production in Sabah, subsequently to meet projected production of seaweed in Malaysia in the year 2010 also will be highlighted. 
In Malaysia, Sabah is the main state for seaweed cultivation activity because of its natural abundance resources and good climate. Department of Fisheries (DOF) Sabah indicated that seaweed production in Sabah has been increased every year amounting to 32 percent from 2008-2012. According to the report, as at 2018, Sabah is the largest grower of seaweed in the country with an area of 9,836 hectares. The east coast of Sabah (Semporna, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Tawau) represents 99.9 per cent of the cultivated area while the remaining farms are found the west coast (Tuaran). Thanks...

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

Monday, July 12, 2021

WHY THAILAND LEADING EXPORTER FOR TROPICAL FRUIT?

WHY THAILAND
is the leading exporter fir durian, mangosteen and other tropical fruits in the world?. It was a long line question asked by many fruit growers in Malaysia since I was at young age joining the agriculture department. I manage to visit Thailand few times especially during fruit season to study some facts about their tropical fruit industry and their marketing strategy applied. However normally any social gathering in Thailand is showered with fruit. Not with endless cups of coffee as Malaysian get us to it but with baskets of mangosteen, rambutan, longan, lamut or lychee. And of course durian fruit if only to try me out. Europeans reputedly detest the strong-smelling ‘King of Fruits’. Many happen to like it for Asian and earn both admiration and disappointment. Thai people also Malaysian and Indonesian not only devour fruit but they are also good at growing it. Through my regular visits to a friendly family of orchard owners In Malaysia and Thailand everybody are lucky to gain some insight in the expertise of the fruit farmers in kampong and orchard area. This article in blog "Anim Agriculture Technology" I rewrite an article about the question why Thailand able to lead for export of durian, mangosteen and other tropical fruit in this region.

The fruit growing industry in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are long history. There are more than three generations to gather in the huge shed adjacent to the farmers house, amidst fans, vehicles, machinery, goats and cooking pots. While the food gets prepared many youngsters try out some motorbike, babies are being cuddled, and business is discussed. Typical conversation topics such as how the pro's and con's of certain fertilizers with the newest varieties of durian and the best of lubricants and/or the hiring of laborers from neighbouring  country such as from Cambodia or Laos. Sometimes many of the salesman is invited for a demonstration of a gardening tool; neighbours, all fruit farmers, are invited. Sometimes the entire family jumps into their pick-ups to visit a prosperous garden in the vicinity. Of course to try the fruit, but also to discuss the growing method with the owner. In their lives, it is fruit that counts and they derive great honour from improving the taste, the shape, the smell and the yield. In Thailand at t
he eastern province Chanthaburi and bordered by the Gulf of Thailand and short mountain ranges, has the favorable soil and climate to grow an abundance of fruits. It has become one of Thailand’s major sources of durian, rambutan, mangosteen, salak, longkong, banana and longan. Export is booming. Every year, hundreds of new fruit purchasing depots spring up in the region, often run by Chinese traders. During the fruit season, April to June, these places are bustling with activity. An endless parade of fully loaded pick-ups provides a continuous supply. Work is done with impressive efficiency; quality is checked on the spot, fruits are instantly packed in boxes and loaded onto large container trucks, while the drivers take a nap in their hammock before they head to China.

The road network through Laos has seen major improvements to facilitate the Chinese customers’ longing for the tasty tropical fruits. Transport by road is not cheaper than by sea, but much faster, an indispensable factor for perishable goods. By road the south of China is reached in two or three days, by sea it takes ten days. Since the China ASEAN Free Trade Agreement came into force in 2003, eliminating import tariffs on fruits and vegetables, the growth in Thailand’s exports of fruits to China escalated from below 10% a year to over 90% a year in both trade volume and value.2 Besides China, major customers for fresh Thai fruit are Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and Korea.3 Fruit strategy The intensified export of tropical fruits has left its mark on the production, harvesting and marketing of fruits. Some marks are intentional. The ‘Fruit Strategy’ of the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives emphasizes raising the quality of the fruits and encouraging farmers to produce according to internationally 
recognized certifications like GAP (Good Agricultural Practice). Hence, with the help of research institutes and mainly through local cooperatives4 , fruit farmers are instructed in production methods that are environmentally friendly and deliver better yields. But some marks are ability unintentional and unwanted. The influx of foreign traders, who buy crops straight from the farmer, has been beneficial to the growers, because they gain easy access to international markets without losing money to middlemen. But the local fruit traders now have a hard time to compete, especially since some foreign traders start selling on the local markets. This is illegal under the Foreign Business Act, but by appointing a Thai nominee owner, a foreign firm appears being Thai-owned. According to the Bangkok Post, of the 100 fruit wholesale operations in Chanthaburi 60% are owned by foreigners or have a Thai as nominee owner. To tackle this problem, the Commerce Ministry has launched the so-called ‘Chanthaburi model’. Foreign traders have to register with the Agriculture Department if they intend to buy fruit straight from farmers. The fruits they buy must comply with the GAP standards and the contract with the local farmers must be ‘fair’. 

For buying and selling in Thailand many of them in which they need approval from the Commerce Ministry. Public relations The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has also set guidelines to launch public relations campaigns for the promotion of Thai fruit. As a result, not only the fruit markets are bustling, so is the ‘market’ of seminars, conferences, trade partner matching fairs, field trips and fruit festivals. In March this year, when orchards started showing their promising fruits, the provincial administration of Chanthaburi and Chinese traders from the Guangxi autonomous region met to discuss the distributors’ hurdles and suggestions for better trading opportunities. Huge volumes are at stake, as in 2015 alone Guangxi purchased about 30,000 tons of fruit from the cooperatives in Chanthaburi. In an occasion of Chanthaburi hosted an international symposium on durian and other humid tropical fruits reported that some 200 participants from Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, USA and Thailand discussed topics like biodiversity, breeding, production, processing and marketing. 
On a less serious and more festive level, during the fruit season one can stumble across a festival anywhere in the region, where passers-by can eat as much fruit as they like. The places are always crowded with people who are so unfortunate not to have their own orchard. Fruit trade is dominated by women One aspect of the Thai fruit trade that does not stop striking is the female dominance. Women buy crops from dispersed orchards, they check the quality of fruit offered in the back of pick-up trucks, they negotiate the price, and they carry the calculators and the bulging money bags. Men are for the hard work: loading and unloading, packing, weighing, carrying. Women scrupulously watch the scales, take decisions, calculate and hand out the bank notes.  Women farmers is the one who decides which new plots of land are bought and which son or son-in-law is allowed to try his skills on it. And of course she is the one who assembles and distributes the earnings among her offspring. It is also a lady fruit planter and trader who heads a 7,000 odd member cooperative in the neighbouring province of Trat. Focused on exporting fresh rambutan to Vietnam as stated are experimented with cold storage methods at the lowest possible costs and set up a joint venture with Vietnamese businessmen. They managed to slash the cold storage costs to less than a third. At the processing plants the best quality fruits are chosen, rinsed in water, covered with a moist, fibrous sheet and packed in ice. With this process the rambutan reaches the Vietnamese markets, 1,000 kilometres away, in a fresh state. Currently this determined woman is spurring the 

Thai government to help small exporters by shortening the lengthy customs procedures at the border. Harvesting time Whereas in Europe harvesting time is a farmer’s race against the clock, my Thai friends are utterly relaxed when their orchards show branches burdened with ripe fruit. As has become common practice in the region, their entire crop has already been sold. They only have to wait for the Chinese trader, who brings in his own crew to pick, pack and transport the result of a year’s hard work. So, time enough to discuss what newest model sedan is on the wish list. Meanwhile dessert is offered the salakon-ice and home-made durian paste. Actually, I would die for soursop. But that is way beyond the preference of the sweet-minded Thai. No real worries though, I have some trees growing in my own garden. Facts and figures about some Thai fruit The source of most of this information and all three tables is Fruit production, marketing and research and development system in Thailand. Durian (Durio zibethinus) Thailand is the world's largest durian exporter, with roughly 90% of the international market share. Second and third, but way behind, come Malaysia and Indonesia. There are over 100 cultivars in Thailand, but the most common is ‘Mon thong’. In 2012, 371,946 MT of durian was exported, mainly as fresh fruit (94%), with China, Hong Kong and Taiwan as major buyers. Frozen durian goes to the USA, China and Australia. Most of the durian paste finds its way to Russia, Hong Kong and Singapor. Thailand is also one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of mangosteen, lovingly called ‘the Queen of Fruits’. Supposedly that pet name derives from Queen Victoria’s offering 100 pounds sterling for anyone who could bring her a fresh sample. The anecdote comes from the famous American plant explorer David Fairchild, but nobody knows whether it is a tale or a fact. In 2012, 89% of the Thai production was exported, mainly as fresh fruit. Most important buyers are Vietnam, China and Hong Kong. Thanks.

The majority of rambutan is consumed in the domestic market, due to short shelf life. Only 5% of the total production (334,087 MT in 2012) is exported. Main cultivar rambutan in Thailand is ‘Rongrian’, followed by ‘Si Chomphu’. Export consists for 54% of fresh fruit, mostly to United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Cambodia. Canned rambutan (17% of export) goes to China, Myanmar and Malaysia, whereas rambutan stuffed with pineapple in syrup (29% of export) is most popular in USA, Japan and Germany. In 2012 Thailand produced 876,269 MT of longan, of which 94% was exported. The main commercial cultivar is ‘E-Dor’ (over 500,000 MT each year). Longan requires low temperatures to induce flowering, so it was initially grown in the northern region. But flower induction technology made longan production possible in other regions. Longan is sold fresh and dried, and processed into longan powder, baked longan and longan sugar. Salak (Salacca edulis) Salak, native to Indonesia but grown around southeast Asia, is available all year round. Market information hardly exists. The fruit is relatively unknown outside of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, China and Thailand. Most common cultivars in Thailand are Rakam and Sala. In order to boost recognition of salak in domestic and international trade, the Thai Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives has begun to set standards for quality and safety in 2013. In 2012 Thailand produced 122,902 MT of longkong. The bulk is for the domestic market; only 5% is exported due to short shelf life, remote production sites and attached insects (scorpions!). In 2012, the export of fresh longkong went mainly to Cambodia, Philippines and Vietnam. Much research is put into controlling fungal diseases, postharvest treatment and storing fruit to enhance the export of longkong. Thanks.


By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Kangar, Perlis,
Malaysia.
(July 2021).
Posted from
PHAK , Aiir Keroh,
Melaka.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

COCONUT REVIVAL IN MALAYSIA

COCOBUT PLANTATION
in Malaysia are the fourth important commodities in Malaysia after Oil Palm, Rubber and Paddy. Coconut (Cocos nucifera) mostly grown by smallholders especially on the coastal land area. However from my observation it is time for the local coconut industry to shine because it was having been overshadowed by oil palm for decades. This is being driven by declining palm oil prices and rising demand for coconut-derived products. But there are many challenges. For one, the local coconuts cannot compete with imports in terms of price and scale. According to news reports earlier this year, local coconut suppliers were calling for the government to regulate the import of coconuts. In their view, the influx of cheap coconuts from countries such as Thailand and Indonesia was 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. This article in the blog "Anim Agriculture Technology" discuss about coconut revival in Malaysia as reorted by local media recently.

Coconuts are Malaysia’s fourth largest industrial crop behind oil palm, rubber and rice with most of the plantations found in Sabah and Sarawak. According to a report by the expert in Department of Agriculture Reports, 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, says Abdul Shukor. Meanwhile, palm oil prices rose from 2006 to 2012. Then, prices went on a general downward trend (except for a spike in 2017) due to oversupply and weak demand from top buying nations. 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. On the other hand, coconuts are becoming popular as prices have gone up. It is an emerging industry and the demand is growing because 10 to 20 years ago, we mainly used the crop to produce coconut oil. Today, in addition to virgin coconut oil, it is used to produce fresh coconut milk, drinks and powder.

The current supply of coconuts is unable to meet local demand. According to Department of Agriculture calculations, 100 million to 220 million coconuts need to be imported annually, especially during festive seasons. The problem with the coconut industry at this moment is that the farmers are still using the old variety, Malayan Tall. But the production yield is not that good. This variety produces 6,000 to 10,000 nuts per hectare per year. The Malayan Tall also takes a long time to grow and its height makes it difficult to harvest, he adds. Meanwhile the better varieties of coconut seedlings already exist in the market. These are developed by Mardi and the Department of Agriculture. Companies such as United Plantations Bhd have their own variety known as MATAG (CN13, CN14 and CN15 registration code in which not many farmers can buy. For me as coconut expert in Malaysia also have the Malayan Yellow Dwarf, Malayan Red Dwarf and Pandan Dwarf variety. The plants are smaller and shorter so they are easier to harvest. Also, the yield is very high. When the plants are smaller many farmers can plant more trees in an area. But these varieties were not taken up because farmers were more interested in palm oil at the time. “Not many people were interested in promoting these varieties. Now that everyone is starting to see potential in the coconut industry, these varieties can be a new source of wealth because they can double the income of farmers. However, the seedlings of the new varieties are currently insufficient for all the coconut farmers in the country. They are also more expensive than traditional varieties, which may be a challenge because most of the smallholders have limited budgets.

The Malayan Yellow Dwarf (MYD) and Malayan Red Dwarf (MRD) are about RM10 per seedling while the Matag can go up to RM60 because of the high demand. See the MYD coconut nursery in Manjung Cocounut Nursery Station for farmers (See next photo). The three varieties produce a similar number of nuts per tree, but the Matag variety has thicker flesh, which is good for coconut oil, virgin coconut oil and coconut milk. It is not easy to produce seedlings. Someone has to climb the tree and induce pollination to get the required variety. In Malaysia, there are not many with this skill. The government allocated RM50 million of its budget last year to help farmers purchase seedlings and replant. The money was also aimed at helping farmers improve the maintenance of their plantations and use fertilisers to increase productivity. Previously, farmers did not bother to use fertiliser because they were not aware of its importance. Some just waited for the mature coconuts to fall before collecting them. In Malay word, the local call it the three T's that was  TANAM, TINGGAL and TUAI (plant, wait, harvest). It is easy to apply but production is very low. With the old variety, they can get 15,000 nuts per hectare if they use fertiliser. If not, they can only get 6,000 to 7,000 nuts per hectare per year. This initiative by the government encourages farmers to use fertiliser and adopt agronomic practices or proper farm management. 

For me as agronomist, the good coconut farm management practices are especially important today as the trees are facing threats from pests such as the rhinoceros beetle and red palm weevil. The red palm weevil is actually from the Middle East and could have come when people brought in date palms for ornamental purposes. It is quite devastating. You can see the whole plant collapse because the weevil will eat the inside of the tree trunk. The Department of Agriculture is monitoring this very closely. Actually it was time for a revival to accelerate the growth of the local coconut industry, the government will have to play a big role in ensuring that consumers get a consistent and affordable supply of coconuts while also improving the livelihood of farmers. I believes that the government is trying its best to strike that balance, especially during festive seasons, when the demand for coconuts usually soars. However, if the government can align its efforts to increase the local supply of coconuts and reduce the reliance on imports, this problem can be solved to a large extent. For me it is very important for the government to take this seriously. If we want to elevate the incomes of rural farmers, we need a good strategy, standards of procedures and proper monitoring by the relevant agencies. include the set up of appropriate set up of an agency such as Coconut Board Authority. Many people in the market are complaining that their coconuts cannot be sold and I think it is not because of oversupply but a lack of strategy on how to market them. We need to have more downstream factories and distribution strategies for young coconuts, for example. 

The budget allocation for few year in RMK-11 and RMK 12 was a good move, but the amount was not enough to develop the whole industry. If Malaysia want to replace all the old coconut trees with new ones, it need a bigger budget. This is a good opportunity for bodies such as Felda [Federal Land Development Authority] and Risda [Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority] to get involved because they already have systems to monitor and manage the  plantations. With a large number of farmers working under the management of those entities, it can be easy to manage in terms of harvesting and to venture into the downstream sectors.  There should be a comprehensive strategy covering the entire value chain, from the production of seedlings and increasing the number of plantations to education to improve farm management and encouraging the use of fertilisers. The government will have to play a leading role in providing assistance to farmers for at least five years. While the private sector also has a role to play, the initial stages will have to be funded by the government. There are question whether most coconut farmers can get financial assistance from entities other than the government. The chances are slim as the coconut industry is only just emerging. Even though Agrobank is trying its best to help entrepreneurs because we work alongside it. But it cannot help everyone as it also has [qualification] criteria. With projects involving high-value crops such as rock melons, it is able to help. But I have not heard anything regarding coconuts yet. It will take some time. It takes three years for a coconut plant to produce a yield, compared with merely three months for rock melons. That is one of the problems farmers face and it is why the government has to step in. The farmers can supplement their income by planting bananas, chillies, water morning glory and okra, which have a short harvesting period, while waiting for their first harvest.

The high price of local coconuts has deterred manufacturers from relying solely on domestic supply. Manufacturers that want to ensure customers can purchase their goods at affordable prices are caught in a bind as they also have to control their raw material costs. Linaco Manufacturing (M) Sdn Bhd managing director Joe Ling mention the price of local coconuts is too high. It can be as much as 2½ to 3 times the price of coconuts from neighbouring countries. Linaco is a family-owned business that has been manufacturing coconut-related products for 27 years. The company sources its coconuts from a neighbouring country Indonesia imported at Batu Pahat Barter Port that I visit recently (See photo next). To increase the attractiveness of local suppliers, the government should set up a board to regulate the coconut industry and manage prices to ensure that the difference between local and foreign coconuts is not too wide. It will help to regulate transactions of coconuts and prices of imports. In addition, subsidies have to come in. When the government taxes the industry, the money must always come back in a cycle to assist the upstream industry. Government agencies such as the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation as well as the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Agriculture have supported the coconut industry through various initiatives. Actually I believe they can do better and engage the industry players more. The industry cannot grow only through contributions from the private sector and it was a joint effort. Ling believes that there should be a comprehensive plan for the local coconut industry. “For the past 20 years, coconut trees have been felled and replaced with oil palm and rubber. The government’s planning revolved around planting whichever crop was better. But the sustainability of the business is not there. 

If local coconuts are competitive in which manufacturers can lower their costs by buying them to help support the local industry. This is not an initiative the private sector can undertake by itself. Acquiring new land to plant coconuts is expensive and providing farmers with new and good varieties of seedlings requires a substantial amount of capital. It will be too costly and labour-intensive for the private sector to take this on by themselves. However  when Malaysia have a board it can regulate the standard of seedlings and bring in seedlings from other countries. Government can select members of the board and have a fund to manage it include to do R&D and set up a lab to create those seedlings. This would be like the palm oil board in which is very strong and able to support its farmers. Over the past few months Linaco reported has been engaging with the governments of Sabah and Sarawak to expand coconut plantations. The Sabah government announced plans to open between 10,000 and 25,000 acres of new coconut plantations by working with farmers in rural areas and collaborating with Linaco including in the downstream industry. They told them that if there were coconuts here at a competitive price and volume, someone would take them. We need consistency of volume and prices. Our commitment to the government is that we are there if you can provide this. Linaco has also struck up a joint venture with a seedling expert from India to bring in new varieties.

The Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) is an emerging opportunity for manufacturers in which there is also demand for young coconuts that can be served and consumed in restaurants. These are quite expensive product costing RM5 to RM6 each. If many promote our coconuts well it can be a good opportunity for income. It was suggested that farmers use the Malayan Yellow Dwarf (MYD) and Malayan Red Dwarf (MRD) varieties because they can get more returns if they sell young coconuts for VCO processing. The other parts of the coconut tree can be used for various purposes. The trunk, for instance can be used to build furniture, the young leaves for ketupat and the fibre, which is the outer layer of the coconut, can be used in the agricultural sector. The sector can use it to make cocopeat. It is a medium for plants to grow. It was reported that the local coconut industry has its fair share of players, 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. In the SME space company such as Silas Ling and Michael Lu have brought technology and innovation to the process of producing and delivering coconut milk with their company known as Santanku Sdn Bhd. They became interested in the business when they realised that the process of extracting coconut milk in wet markets was not very hygienic. They also found that there were ready solutions in the market to address this problem. The model for our business is like the one in Singapore, where traditional methods are no longer used to produce coconut milk. The traditional method [using manual labour] creates coconut milk that tastes good, but does not meet hygiene and other food safety requirements. For Santanku’s process, only the opening of the coconut to remove the shell requires manual labour. The moment it goes into the machine for the milk to be extracted from the meat, there is no human contact. It goes through pasteurisation, then it is chilled very quickly so the bacteria does not really multiply during that period. Fresh coconut milk is sensitive. 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, purchasing coconut milk ahead of time can lead to losses if they are unable to use it that day. This innovation lengthens the storage time through pasteurisation, a method commonly used in many industries to sterilise food and extend shelf life. Cendol sellers find us handy because if it is a rainy day, they can cancel their order. They do not have to bear the risk of wasting coconut milk. 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 eithers. Santanku does not intend to compete with the big coconut manufacturers. They wants to focus on serving the micro, small and medium enterprises, particularly the stalls and mamak restaurants. 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? their aim is to help our people. If the government has a big push for the coconut industry, I am quite sure we will be able to see a big change in three to five years. Then, we can source only local coconuts. Thanks.

By,
M ANem,
Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(June 2021).

Monday, June 28, 2021

TEMIAR ORANG ASLI VS CHINA DURIAN

TODAY THE INCREASED DEMAND
 from China for durians, particularly the extremely popular Musang King variety (D197) in which may be a boon for many Malaysians who earn up to US$22 per kg (RM90) of the fruit, but it has also sparked land grabs in Gua Musang, Kelantan reported victimising the local Orang Asli community. A Malay Mail Portal report on '
China craving for Musang King durians threaten Kelantan’s Orang Asli lands' in latest news. Musang King durians are the reason the Temiar tribe are being muscled out of their land, particularly in Gua Musang where the land has potassium-rich soil and an abundance of insect life. According to South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported today that the fruit is extremely lucrative as it can earn farmers nine times more than oil palm in terms of land output per hectare and is the reason the Temiar tribe are being muscled out of their land, particularly in Gua Musang where the land has potassium-rich soil and an abundance of insect life. The Hong Kong daily cited a local activist, Mustafa Along who has been resisting the move a move to halt land-clearings linked to durian cultivation, and has been slapped with lawsuits for setting up blockades. The blog "Anim Agriculture Technology'' share this issue reported on main stream media recently.

According to Orang Asli ativist, this is our land and as a customary land that belonged to our forefathers since before independence aged at 31-year-old father of three was quoted saying. He started a blockade in Gua Musang back in a time in February 2018, to prevent the companies from coming into our land to clear the trees for their durian plants. That land is ours. While it’s not written into law in which it was verbally agreed upon between the Malaysian government and our forefathers. We’ve been connected to it for thousands of years. Malay Mail reported last year that the Temiar community had resisted efforts by a private company attempting to develop Musang King durian and rubber clone projects at the Pos Simpor area, claiming that the irresponsible company has allegedly destroyed 400 hectares of their ancestral land. The company had tried to persuade the tribe not to block the project, claiming to have received approval from the Kelantan state government and tried to bribe the local Temiar community with Musang King durian trees. But the clearing of land has resulted in pollution to the local rivers, like the Nenggiri river, rendering its water undrinkable and the fish are gone. Today’s report in the SCMP suggests the environmental situation has degraded. In the past, medicinal plants used to grow in the forest, many of which the Orang Asli would harvest and sell. Now, all the roots have been pulled and the soil is dry. Hundred-year-old trees, which towered like skyscrapers protecting the native wildlife, have been cut down to make way for the durian trees which will be planted in grids, 10 metres apart,” SCMP reported. But there is a silver lining in a court suit by the new federal government against the PAS-led Kelantan government for failing to protect Orang Asli land in Gua Musang this January 18. This came after environmentalist Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil lobbied for the Orang Asli’s right to their land and indiscriminate logging, presenting Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with a memorandum, requesting the federal government to intervene. For Mustafa, it’s a positive step, but too late. This is an important development. It shows that the government cares about the welfare and well-being of the Orang Asli. But this should have happened years ago. The damage to our forests is irreversible as told by SCMP. Source: Malay Mail
Thanks.

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

Thursday, June 17, 2021

EXPENSIVE 'SEEDLESS LYCHEE'

WAS IT WORTH
bought S$60/KG seedless lychees as recently reported by local media in Singapore?. A male local reporter has been seeing these hyped-up seedless lychees on Facebook groups and online grocers and being touted as premium and consistently portrayed as ‘sold out’, so heck, why not give it a shot?. Lychee season (Litchi chinensis) begins around summer in May to June and runs till around August; this is when you start seeing an abundance of lychees being sold in the supermarket or online. He was thoroughly impressed with the ‘China Lychees’ he bought from NTUC during this period, so he thought why not splurge on premium lychees since we’re saving on dining out anyway. His research brought me to a speciality fruit store to find these seedless lychees, which go for a whopping S$60 per kg (around 10 times the price of the other common seasonal variety, Fei Zi Xiao). For the seedless Lychees surprisingly, the fruit-seller didn’t really know what varietal this lychee is called, but we do know it’s from Hainan, China. As with any seedless fruit, genetic modification or breeding must have played some part here. In this blog "Anim Agriculture Technology" I would like to share a report about the expensive seedless lychee in Singapore.

To which a look of shock appeared with a resounding “no”. It was 1kg or nothing for these seedless lychees as people were snapping them up. Fine, He passed over cash and thought to myself that these lychees better taste as good as a steak for this price. 
Fast forward and here I am back home taking photos of these S$60 seedless lychees. I’ve to say the shell’s colour does look vibrant and very appetising. Peeling through the shell, He could tell that it didn’t spurt out as much juice on contact. The shell is pretty thin though making peeling an easy effort. Excitedly, he popped one seedless lychee into my mouth and true to description, there was no seed. It was fairly sweet and a novel experience, since with lychees you never really dare bite through the entire fruit in one go, having to navigate around the seed. But not for this! This was full chomping freedom. However, after some chewing, his tongue detected something bitter and not exactly resembling flesh. It was the top of the stem where the seed would have grown as circled above. This stem is technically soft enough to chew and swallow whole, but the mild bitterness was a stark contrast to the sweet flesh. he start to spat it out. Although seedless, it wasn’t what he imagined as being able to swallow the fruit whole due to the residual stem. He tried a few more lychees and pretty much all of them still have this little “stem” thing. Guess there’s still a limit to GMO. He still had a bag of Fei Zi Xiao lychees in the fridge, so he decided to compare them. 

China Lychees’ as NTUC cleverly labels them are actually Fei Zi Xiao 妃子笑 lychees, or ‘Concubine’s laughter’ in English. This lychee is abundant in summer and its green and red shell is quite distinct. Regardless of the greenness, it’s ripe and ready to eat. The price for these lychees goes for roughly S$6 – $7 per kilogram
More often than not, you get the occasional spurt of juices just trying to pry open the thin shell of a Fei Zi Xiao lychee. A feature of the Fei Zi Xiao is its smaller seed compared to other common all-year varietals, although not completely seedless like the Hainan lychees previously. He have eaten these lychees multiple times so let’s get to the conclusion. Are seedless lychees worth it?. In terms of fragrance, sweetness, juiciness and price, the in-season Fei Zi Xiao lychees win hands down against seedless lychees without a doubt. It wasn’t even a close fight. Sure, there’s that novel element where you can pop the whole seedless lychee in your mouth without worrying about biting on a hard seed, but the small stem still proved to be an annoyance, just like its daylight robbery price tag. So there you have it, Hainan seedless lychees, at S$60 per kilogram, are in my opinion not worth the splurge. I’d rather buy 10kg of Fei Zi Xiao, or even a decent Wagyu steak at this price. Some extra information; I’ve been told that lychees taste best during the middle of the season, while the tail month ends won’t yield as sweet a fruit. Ideal months for buying lychee would hence be around June and July. Enjoy the lychee season while it lasts!. Thanks. 
By,
M Anem,
Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(Jun 2021).

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

7 HEALTH BENEFIT OF COCONUT WATER

COCONUT
(Cocos nucifera) are a type of tree also known as 'Tree of Life'.  There are about 83,000 hectare of coconut were grown in Malaysia and the fourth important agriculture sector in Malaysia. The nuts, trunks, leaves and many other plant components are used and processed for various purposes. The coconut water is made from the clear liquid inside of green coconuts. It’s not to be confused with coconut milk, which is made from the water and the flesh inside of a mature coconut. Over 95 percent of coconut water is water. Despite its recent explosion in popularity, coconut water has been consumed for centuries in tropical regions around the world. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, coconut water is believed to help digestion, urination, and even semen production. It has also traditionally been used to treat dehydration and given as ceremonial gifts throughout the tropics. While it may not be a miracle cure, it does have many health benefits. This article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" we will discuss about the seven (7) benefits of coconut water.

1. Natural sports drink
From my observation as agronomist, coconut water’s natural electrolytes make it a solid match for traditional sports drinks like Gatorade. Made without added sugar, food coloring, or artificial sweeteners, many people reach for coconut water as a more natural performance drink. There are studies result have shown that coconut water can perform just as well as a traditional sport’s drink to keep you hydrated and help replenish fluids after a run. However, coconut water has less sodium, the main electrolyte you lose with sweat, than most sport’s drinks. It also has fewer carbohydrates than many drinks meant for endurance performance. This means it might not give you enough energy for a long bout of exercise (greater than 90 minutes), but it will help you rehydrate afterward. While coconut water doesn’t help you rehydrate any better than water or traditional sports drinks after exercise, a study found that it was easier to drink enough without causing nausea or an upset stomach. The researchers also recommend avoiding coconut water with added sugars because they prevent proper hydration and add unnecessary calories.


2. Low in calories
With only 45 calories in a cup, coconut water is a great substitute for higher calorie drinks like sodas or juice, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Coconut water has less sugar and carbohydrates than most juices. It also has more minerals and electrolytes like sodium and potassium. However, for casual sipping, it still can’t compete with zero calorie water.


3. Potassium
Coconut water has more than 10 times the amount of potassium of most sports drinks. An 8-ounce glass of coconut water is packed with as much potassium as a banana. Most Americans fall short of the daily recommendation for potassium. At 405 mg per cup, the potassium in coconut water can help you ward off cramps. Potassium helps keep fluid and electrolyte balance in the body, especially during exercise. Because there is more potassium than sodium in coconut water, the potassium may help balance out sodium’s effect on blood pressure and possibly even help lower it.


4. Calcium and magnesium
Calcium is vital for more than just strong bones and teeth. It helps muscles contract and work properly. As you exercise, your muscles pull on your bones and break them down slightly. As your body recovers, your bones use calcium to get stronger and repair. Magnesium helps to move calcium and potassium into muscles to aid in contraction and relaxation. It also helps with energy production and supports organ function. A hard workout can leave you depleted in magnesium and prone to cramps, restless muscles, and spasms. While coconut water contains more calcium and magnesium than other sports drinks or fruit juices, it is not a concentrated source of either mineral. Coconut water contains less than 5 percent of your recommended amount of both calcium and magnesium.

5. Antioxidants
There are reports regarding in addition to all of its hydrating benefits, coconut water contains antioxidants that help to neutralize oxidative stress and free radicals created by exercise. Look for fresh coconut water to get the highest levels of antioxidants. Processed and heat pasteurized coconut water has fewer antioxidants, according to a recent study.

 
6. Amino acids
Amino acids are essential for repairing tissues and are the building blocks of protein. Coconut water contains more alanine, arginine, cysteine, and serine than cow’s milk. It’s a major source of arginine, an amino acid that helps your body respond to stress (like the stress caused by a difficult workout). Arginine may also help keep the heart healthy.

7. Cytokinins
The hormones that help plants grow, also known as cytokinins, are also found in coconut water. These compounds are believed to have antiaging and cancer-fighting properties. However, to date no major studies have shown that coconut water wards off cancer.

The important of coconut water can be a great way to rehydrate after a hard, sweaty workout. Swap coconut water for a traditional sports drink and skip the added sugar, dyes, and other synthetic ingredients. If you are trying to lose weight, it might be best to opt for water instead. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also recommends choosing water if you haven’t sweat excessively, since coconut water does not rehydrate you any better than water does and it comes with extra calories and sugar. Seek out fresh, unprocessed coconut water to get the most antioxidants and a true taste of the tropics. Thanks...

By,
M Anem,
Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
March 2021.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

HUNGER FOR DURIAN - DEFORESTTATION?

DURIAN
(Durio zibethinus) are the most popular seasonal fruit grown in Malaysia since there are very good demand from China. However the Malay Mail portal in their article titled 'Chinese hunger for durians threatens Malaysian forests' are here for discussion during pandemic covid19 occurrence in the world. Photo above showing a worker for a non-governmental organisation walking in a durian plantation in Raub, Pahang as published on February 2019 recently.  The soaring demand for durians in China is being blamed for a new wave of some deforestation in Malaysia with environmentalists warning vast amounts of jungle is being cleared to make way for massive plantations of the spiky, pungent fruit. Grown across tropical Southeast Asia, the durian is hailed as the “king of fruits” by fans, who liken its creamy texture and intense aroma to blue cheese. But detractors say durians stink of sewage and stale vomit. The strong smell means many hotels across the region have banned guests from bringing them to rooms, while Singapore does not allow the fruit on its subway system.  Nevertheless, they are a hit in China, and the increase in demand has prompted exporters to vye for a bigger share of the burgeoning market. This blog "Anim Agriculture Technology" able to rewrite and share about the above news.

Growers in Malaysia are increasingly shifting from small orchards to industrial-scale operations as a new trend that environmentalists warn presents a new threat to rainforests already challenged by loggers and palm oil plantations. Right now durians are gaining a lot of attention from the Chinese market as said by Sophine Tann from environmental protection group Peka in which has studied land clearances to make way for the fruit. This deforestation for planting of durians is in preparation to meet that demand. In the jungle-clad district of Raub, Pahang in central Malaysia, swathes of rainforest have recently been chopped down to make way for a new plantation with durian seedlings protected by netting planted across bare hillsides. The plantation is next to an area of protected forest, which is home to a kaleidescope of animals from monkeys to exotic birds. A river, now murky and filled with trunks and branches from logging that runs close by. A sign outside the plantation said it was run by Ample Harvest Produce but company staff refused to comment when contacted about the loss of trees in the area. Peka said the land’s status was changed by the local government to allow logging, but local authorities did not respond to requests for comment. 
Wang Tao, a durian eatery owner, looking on as a row of the exotic fruit line a countertop at his stall in Beijing January 18, 2019.

In a Beijing mall some 4,000 kilometres away in a stall named “Little Fruit Captain” is doing a brisk trade selling Malaysian durians. Shop manager Wang Tao said his customers “fall in love” with durians from Malaysia due to their particularly sweet taste, often preferring them to those from rival exporters , such as Thailand (See photo above). He imports frozen durians from a facility in Malaysia and sells them in plastic containers or in other forms a kind of baked dessert, in ice cream or fried up as crisps. Customers are kept up to date about the shop’s stock via the WeChat messaging app. He at first tried durian as a child and acquired a taste for it as said by a university student Liu Zelun who visits the shop once a week for her durian fix. Thai durians have a stronger flavour and you tend to get sick of it after a while but not the ones that I buy from here the duriann from Malaysia. The most popular variety and one of the most expensive known as is Musang King and it was known for its thick and golden flesh. A single Musang King durian was on sale at the Beijing stall for 800 yuan (US$120) that was several times more expensive than in Malaysia. Their customers aren’t concerned about the prices and they just want the best durian as claimed by Wang. Workers carry durians at a farm in Karak July 24, 2018. At the similar time, the prices if palm oil down but the durian prices always up. With the price of key Malaysian export palm oil, used in everyday goods around the world from soap to margarine, in a seemingly inexorable decline, farmers are increasingly turning to durians. The government has backed the expansion of the industry, hoping to cash in on growing demand from the world’s second-biggest economy. The value of durian shipments from Malaysia to China in the first eight months of 2018 hit RM7.4 million, more than double the value in the same period of 2017, according to the agriculture ministry in Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia hopes a deal struck in August to pave the way for the export of whole, frozen durians to China will boost shipments, and are aiming to more than double production to 443,000 tonnes by 2030. Previously, Malaysian durians could only be shipped to China in pulp and paste form. Despite the looming production boom, the agriculture ministry insisted plantations will expand slowly and said it was encouraging growers to use existing orchards and revive unproductive trees. Deforestation for new areas is not encouraged as claimed by Agriculture Minister in a statement, adding that if trees were logged for plantations with a strict environmental rules must be followed. In the northeastern state of Kelantan, tribespeople last year set up blockades to stop a company from logging their ancestral lands to set up a Musang King plantation. The central government has taken up their cause, suing the state government for failing to uphold their land rights. But environmentalists warn the overall picture is bleak. Durian cultivation is “driving yet more deforestation and biodiversity loss in Malaysia,” said environmental group Rimba, warning it was leading to “destruction of critical habitat for wide-ranging animals such as tigers, elephants, primates, and hornbills. Source: AFP. Thanks....!
By,
M Anem,
Putrajaya,
Malaysia.
(March 2021).