Graduate cooks up solution to unsold bitter gourd crop

Putting it to good use: Aina Fatini Md Rizan, 24, (right) frying the cut bitter gourd into chips.— Bernama

KOTA BARU: A Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) graduate here has come up with a creative way to prevent the bitter gourd cultivated by her husband from going to waste by turning them into crispy chips infused with a variety of flavours.

Aina Fatini Md Rizan, 24, said she came up with the idea after her husband Mohamad Zulfazli Mohamad Arifin, 28, faced difficulties in marketing the vegetable due to the movement control order.

Her husband, she said, had about 1,000 plants which could produce around 150kg of bitter gourd within two days to be supplied to markets within and outside the state.

“Although the lockdown has affected the delivery of the crop outside Kelantan, my husband and I decided that we should not let it go to waste.

“I then started to produce bitter gourd chips early this month,” she said when met at her house in Kampung Kubang Palas, Banggu, yesterday.

Admitting that it was not easy to venture into a new business without enough knowledge, Aina Fatini, an information systems engineering graduate, said apart from going through trial and error, she learnt how to make bitter gourd chips through Google and by watching tutorials on YouTube.

“At the initial stage, I just did it my own way, but the results were not satisfactory as the chips went stale quickly.

“I then took a two-day online course and managed to gain so much knowledge that helped me to improve my bitter gourd chips,” she said.

Aina Fatini said she began by giving samples to family members and close friends to get their feedback.

When she received very encouraging responses from them, she decided to look into it seriously.

The second of five siblings, Aina Fatini said that to ensure the quality of her chips, she would choose only medium-sized and semi-ripe bitter gourd.

She said more than 30kg of bitter gourd is needed to produce over 50 packets of chips weighing 170g each.

“Usually, I start work as early as 7am, beginning with cutting the bitter gourd into pieces and soaking them in salt water to reduce the bitterness.

“The bitter gourd chips, which are produced in four flavours – original, spicy, salted egg and cheese – are sold at between RM15 and RM18 per packet,” she added.

To reach out to more customers, Aina Fatini said she uses e-commerce platforms as well as social media sites to sell her bitter gourd chips.

She has also recruited 15 agents in Kelantan and Penang to sell her product and managed to earn more than RM800 a day. — Bernama

Aina Fatini said she plans to produce more products including eggplant and Brazilian spinach chips soon. — Bernama

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