Sunday, 18 January 2015

Final Presentation

On Friday, Jan 16, the SMART team presented its findings to all the stakeholders. Department of Agriculture, Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institute (MARDI), Centre for Environment, Technology & Development, Malaysia (CETDEM) and University of Putra Malaysia (UPM). A representative from Zenxin Organic, a leading vegetable producer company, and one of its contract farmers also attended the presentation. This interactive session served as an opportunity for all the stakeholders to meet with each other and discuss the problems faced by organic farming in Malaysia.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Visit of Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI)

On Tuesday afternoon, we visited Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI). We were briefed by the Deputy Director and his team of senior researchers. They shared details about their research initiatives, especially in the area of organic farming. Our invitation to attend our final meeting at UPM was accepted by the Deputy Director.

Meeting at Department of Agriculture

The SMART team visited the Department of Agriculture on Tuesday, Jan 13, to seek further information about government's position on organic farming. The team was briefed by the senior staff of DOA on Malaysian Organic Scheme (SOM) certification. We invited the department to attend our presentation at the University of Putra Malaysia which was accepted by them.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Discussion at University of Putra Malaysia

On Monday, we headed to the University of Putra Malaysia, which is the major agricultural university in Malaysia. In the morning we met with the talented professors and department heads from the university. They were able to provide us a great assessment of the agricultural situation in Malaysia. After a fabulous lunch, courtesy of the Food Science department, our fearless leader presented to university staff and students about the importance of the transfer of information. After another busy day, we are ready to continue our tour of Malaysia at the Department of Agriculture.

Visit of Local wholesale market

After a wonderful trip to Kluang the team enjoyed catching up on the sleep on the 4-hour trip back from Kluang to KL. Once in KL the team checked into our favorite hotel in KL, the Aloft hotel outside of KL Sentral.

The next morning we awoke bright and early to head to the wholesale market. By bright and early we mean to say we were bright eyed and bushy tailed in the van by 6 A.M. Okay, we might not have been so bushy tailed but our team did arrive at the late hour, by Malaysian vegetable wholesalers standards, of 6:30 A.M to the market. At the market we were able to interact with the wholesale buyers and learn about their experiences with selling and dealing with organic vegetables and fruits. After this early morning we were able to go and visit the Batu caves, a Hindu temple in a giant sandstone cave. After this thrilling cultural excursion, which included climbing all 272 steps to lead to the entrance of the cave. The team headed to perform some market research in the local supermarkets. After visiting several stores, we were able to gather information about the prevalence of organic in this city.

On Sunday the team had our lovely day of rest. Some of us opted to explore the city while others opted to do as the locals and rest by the pool to escape the heat. All enjoyed a day to recharge for the work that remains!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Visit to Zenxin headquarters in Kluang

On Jan 7, we headed towards Zenxin headquarters located in Kluang. The founder and CEO of the organization, Mr. Tai, received us and toured his farms. His farms attract millions of tourists each year. We also visited his compost factory, which is a significant source of competitive advantage for him. Mr Tai provided us details about his company and its business model.

On Jan 8, Mr. Tai arranged for us to meet with some of his employees to know more about the company ideology. We held detailed discussion with Mr. Tai and his employees about their concept of organic farming. We also visited his packaging facility and observed the whole value chain.


Friday, 9 January 2015

Second day at Cameron Highlands

On Thursday, the team woke up early in the Cameron Highlands to head out to the local market. We walked around the stands, looking at all of the vegetables, meat, and fruits. (Especially strawberries, a specialty of the region!) We thought it was interesting that there was almost no produce labelled organic. 

After the market, we headed to visit Mr. Khong, another organic farmer in the region. In addition to his farm, he operates the Time Tunnel, a local history museum so-called because it takes the visitors back in time. Sadly, it was not open upon our visit. 

Before we left the Highlands to head back to KL, we stopped over at the Malaysian Agricultural Research Development Institute (MARDI), and saw some beautiful flowers! The park there grows a lot of plants that originate in more temperate climates, so we noticed a lot of flowers that also grow around Ithaca! It felt just like Cornell, give or take 80 degrees. 

That night, we went back to KL and had a team dinner while discussing our experience in the Cameron Highlands. It was great to be back in the city, but we didn't have long to rest before heading out to Kluang on Thursday morning!