KUANTAN: Helping farmers to market their produce and for the public to get fresh vegetables at a cheap price have been the missions of three university graduates when they ventured into the agriculture sector early last year.
Muhammad Naqib Azam, 31, who holds a Bachelor of Agriculture in Livestock Science from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) said they agreed to only make a profit of less than 50 sen per kilogramme for most of the vegetables they sold.
Citing cucumber as an example, he said, they bought the cucumbers from farmers at RM2.70 a kg, but sold to consumers at a retail price of only RM3 a kg,which was cheaper than the RM3.50 per kg under the price control scheme.
“We can sell at the price because we buy the vegetable directly from the farmers, then transport it to the centre for packaging ourselves, and also deliver the vegetable to buyers ourselves.
“Good relationship with the farmers is also an advantage because they are prepared to lower the price of their agricultural produce, knowing that our main intention is to help them market their produce,” he said when met at their ‘office’ at the Taman Kekal Pengeluaran Makanan Projek Fertigasi Inderapura here today.
Muhammad Naqib, who was born in Raub, said there were times when they had to absorb the transportation cost to keep the vegetable price low.
Besides cucumber, Muhammad Naqib said they also supply chilli, ladies fingers and long beans which were sourced from around here and Pekan.
These vegetables are sold to consumers on the same day they are bought from the farms, he added.
Business partner, Mohd Syamim Aizat Zaki, 31, said they decided to venture into agro-business during the Movement Control Order (MCO) upon watching many farmers complaining of no market for their agricultural produce.
“We approached some farmers and offered to help sell their farm produce, but at a cheap price so that they can at least get some income from their produce…we started selling the vegetables to family members, neighbours and and then at residential areas.
“It was all through words of mouth that the public got to know about us at first and then through the Facebook account of Dari Kebun, he said, adding that due to the encouraging response, they decided to engage in the business seriously and formed SZ Sayur Trading
Mohd Syamim, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Universiti Malaysia Pahang, (UMP) said their daily routine started at 9 am with visits to farms to get their supply of vegetables and then sent them to their office for grading and packaging.
They began sending out the vegetables to their customers at noon and the returned to he office by 3 pm to prepare the next consignment, which is for evening delivery, normally to supermarkets and retail outlets.
Muhammad Syamim said to facilitate operation, customers were required to place their orders a day earlier.
This is to avoid wastage, he added.
Meanwhile, Muhammad Zaid Zuhri, 31, also a UPM graduate in Agriculture Science, thanked Kuantan District Agriculture office for the advice and guidance.
“Our next plan is to have our own vegetable farm so that we can continue to provide vegetables at cheap price for the community,” he added.-Bernama