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Mass Comm Grads Take Leap Of Faith & Start Agriculture Business To Adapt To Hard Times



Source: Provided to WOB by INTI

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This pandemic and its lockdowns have caused us to be more creative with our lives. Some of us have used this opportunity to explore new hobbies and passions, maybe even taking it one step further to pursue dreams that are completely out of our comfort zones!

Seremban natives Ben Rayappan A/L David William Jayaraj and Alvin Hoo Yan Weng were co-founders of a small event planning company. These young lads did not know each other prior but met when they were studying together in the Mass Communications course at INTI International University, Nilai.

As they were unable to plan events, they decided to put their energy into something else and that was agriculture. Prior to starting, the duo conducted their own market research by interviewing farmers and vegetable sellers. They identified cili padi (bird’s eye chilli) as the most profitable plant, as reported in a media release given to WOB by INTI. With an inkling of what they wanted to do, the duo set out on their agriculture journey in June 2020 on a quarter-acre commercial lot belonging to Ben’s mother.

Ben and Alvin spent about RM40,000 to start the business and the costs just kept adding up as they needed to buy thermometers, electrical conductivity (EC) meters, and pH meters that are essential to ensure the best crops. They also needed to spend money on industrial water pumps, irrigation lines, solar panels, plant food, soil conditioners, flypaper, and insect nets for pest control.

It may sound easy on paper but Alvin has said that it is definitely not just throwing seeds into the ground and calling it a day.

“Farming is no walk in the park. There are too many factors you cannot control such as weather and wind.”

“Too much rain can erode soil nutrients, change our watering ration, reduce plant flowering, and promote parasite growth. High winds can break branches and damage trees.”

“Pests can eat your crops, spread plant disease, and reduce crop yields. There are just so many things that can go wrong.”

Not only that, picking the chillies is a monotonous and back-breaking process and at best a person can only pick around 10 kilogrammes a day. Ben added that during the MCO, the government prohibited working in a large group and so harvesting the chillies were a bit of a struggle.

They are currently supplying to neighbourhood grocery stores, restaurants, and a few household customers but the duo hopes to produce enough chillies to supply big chain stores one day. The business partners are on the lookout for expansion opportunities and they have multiple ideas for how they want to proceed.

“The plan is to have a sustainable supply of produce to be able to take orders from big-name grocers. We would also like to have our own farm-to-table grocery delivery service!”

Even though the duo’s tertiary education had nothing to do with agriculture, they were able to take out the core values and apply them to their business.

This is certainly a very adaptive duo. We wish them all the best in their business venture!


Also read: Meet Shaun Chen, The Malaysian Who Is Composing Music For Multiple Hollywood Films & Series

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