ORGANIC farmers in Penang looking for ways to improve their crop yield can reach out to business start-up Ekebun.
Aiming at encouraging more organic farming, the company uses data collected about organic farming that would benefit local organic farmers.
Founder Sim Xue Heng, 25, said that the company was established in June, but research had been ongoing for the past five years.
“My family and I decided to operate an organic farm. It was not easy and we had to close down the operation.
“It had me thinking about the sustainability of the business. Why is it that organic farming is able to survive elsewhere?”
“I then set up this business with my three co-founders, who are into programming, e-commerce, Big Data and Internet of Things (IoT),” Sim said when met at an upcoming homestay project at Taman Kesumba in Sungai Jawi in Jawi, south Seberang Prai.
Also present was co-founder Peter Loo, 22, who has a background in computer science.
Sim said he was glad that the homestay project had allocated a plot of land for them to carry out research and development activities.
“We would love to collaborate with other farms as well. We approached several organic farms in Penang and it’s difficult to get them on board with the idea.
“It’s probably because it would take several years to collect the necessary data,” he said.
Sim said that trade data of the agricultural sector between 2005 and 2017 from Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry revealed that Malaysia imported RM34.52bil worth of food, but exported RM21.01bil only.
“We believe this leads Malaysia to buy expensive food. One of the reasons is agricultural workers in Malaysia still practise traditional farming method.
“They do not have enough exposure to new technology such as IoT and Big Data which is able to increase their production and lower their costs,” he said.
Sim, who studied material engineering, said that it was important to provide data that would help organic farmers increase their crop yield.
Ekebun was able to secure RM150,000 from the state government’s Penang i4.0 Seed Fund this year.
In order to sustain the business, Ekebun now sells local produce, mainly vegetables, to consumers who could order online.
The Star recently visited one of Ekebun’s suppliers at Conscience Organic Vege Farm in Kulim, Kedah.
Once an order is made two days in advance, the vegetables are harvested and delivered on the same day. For orders above RM30, it is free delivery.
The vegetables for sale include kangkung, kailan, bak choy, long bean, ladies fingers and cucumber, priced from RM3 per 300gm onwards.
Currently, Ekebun provides delivery within Penang only, three days a week.
For more information, login to www.ekebun.com or call 017-4690072.