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Kairos Agriculture

Agriculture

Cover Story

About

As an adventurous person, Ezra Tan has involved in various industries including graphic design and printing, insurance, F&B, construction, and more. In 2017, he joined the founder - Mr. Alfred Phua to venture into mushroom farming in East Malaysia.

While planting mushrooms, Ezra and his team notice there were organic wastes from the farm’s expired mushroom logs left aside. They tried to convert those wastes into vermicompost—where worms can use green waste to create water-soluble nutrients that can be repurposed as organic fertilizer and soil conditioner.

After successfully converting the wastes from planting mushrooms into vermicompost, they used it to plant vanilla. Surprisingly, it worked. Upon testing their vanilla pods at a Japanese flavoring company, the product was praised for its world trade quality; the Japanese company demanded more of it.

The scale of the farm in East Malaysia is not able to meet the demand requested from the Japanese company. However, they never give up. Eventually, in 2019, 2 acres of land is leased by the Penang government in February 2020 to start the vanilla cultivation on a larger scale.

With an aim to make Penang known as Malaysia’s vanilla plantation hub, Kairos needed a farm with AI to control the vanilla’s production. But being one of the pioneers in this method of mass growing the edible flower, they lacked the knowledge in how to build the relevant technologies.

Another challenge present was the infrastructure which was new to the market back then. So, the tech team had to go through vigorous trial and error to enhance the automation required for their smart farm.

With the help of the researchers, an automatic misting system was set up. It would be activated when the weather is too hot and the humidity is too low. On top of controlling the farm’s weather remotely, the tech also prevents water wastage as it’s only activated when vital conditions are met.

By relying on traditional farming methods alone, the average yield a 2-acre vanilla farm can generate is around 700kg of cured pods. Kairos’ smart farm is able to raise that by up to 43%, even more so with their current 6 acres of land.

Their products come in the form of vanilla extract and pods, most commonly demanded by F&B establishments like bakeries and fine dining restaurants. Apart from that, they also have clients from the beauty sector who use their vanilla extract for premium cosmetics and fragrances. On top of supplying vanilla products to these industries, Kairos is also an exporter to Japan and soon to China.

Moving forward, Kairos plans to develop their farm into an eco-tourism hub that will consist of a farm-to-table café, outdoor aquaponics farm, etc. For now, they already have a vanilla-themed café available on their land.

Kairos Agriculture has joined ZOM-IN.com to collaborate in efforts to empower aspiring youths. Join us now at www.zom-in.com to participate in exciting events coming soon!

Achievement

2020 JCI Sustainable Development Award Finalist