KOTA KINABALU: AirAsia's fresh produce e-commerce platform, airasia farm, plans to set up a 557sq m (6,000sq ft) warehouse in the city by the second quarter of this year.
It will serve as a three-in-one Digital Agri Centre, functioning as a cold chain facility, office space and training space for farmers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Sabah, airasia farm CEO Joanna Ibrahim told the media on Monday (May 3).
When completed, the warehouse will be able to accommodate tonnes of fresh produce and can also be utilised as a quality control measure.
By sorting and distributing fresh produce with cold chain services to ensure freshness and readily available stocks to avoid losses through supply disruptions, she said it would also help ensure food security.
"Facilities at Sandakan and Tawau are also in the pipeline," she said, without elaborating.
Launched in June, airasia farm enables farmers to connect directly to businesses and eliminate middlemen. It started operations in Sabah in November with the objective of making the state a leading agriculture export hub in Asia.
At present, Joanna said airasia farm has registered 142 vegetable farmers, 21 poultry producers and 34 fisherman and dried food producers in the state.
"We have registered businesses from across industries including importers, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels and wholesalers registered with us.
"In terms of initiatives, we have been actively promoting Sabah dried seafood on our e-commerce and network of business buyers in Peninsular Malaysia," she added.
Sabah airasia farm general manager Murain Shunmuganathan said over the last two months, they have delivered more than two tonnes of dried seafood to Kuala Lumpur from Tawau.
"Our top products include ikan bilis kopek (anchovies), udang kering (dried prawns) and ikan bilis mata biru (blue-eye anchovies).
"Utilising the strengths of AirAsia's logistics and cargo arm, Teleport, we have found new markets for Sabah products in the Klang Valley, Penang and central regions," he said.
airasia farm is also gauging the market receptiveness for frozen seafood, premium fruits such as avocados and pomelos, as well as belacan (shrimp paste) from Papar.
At the same time, he said, it will focus on the sale and distribution of Harumanis mangoes in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah.
"For our Harumanis project, we have partnered with our dropship agents and foodpanda as an e-commerce partner in Sabah for home delivery from May 7.
"The Harumanis mangoes will also be available at our participating retailers in Kota Kinabalu: City Grocer, City Gourmet, Everise (Imago), Tong Hing, CCK City Mall, and Food Town starting May 8," he added.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, who was also present, praised AirAsia for extending to flying food instead of just people.
The state Agriculture and Fisheries Minister expressed hope that local fruits like pomelos, tarap and bambangan will not only be marketed in Peninsular Malaysia but also internationally, in future.