Startup Teaching M’sians To Grow & Sell Organic Produce
In my family, buying organic products has always been our choice, where vegetables with holes in their leaves are a good sign.
It’s hard to deny that the organic trend is picking up in Malaysia, considering how many small startups are branching out into selling organic products.
We’ve seen startups that sell organic products (Plucked, for example) and startups that give you the tools and knowledge to grow your own (The Urban Farmer and Eats, Shoots & Roots, for example), but we have again to see a startup combine elements of both.
So far with Pasarkita. It is a platform that encourages city dwellers not only to grow, but also to sell their organic products to their neighbors through a subscription model.
With a belief in profit sharing to empower local communities, the company aims to reduce the decentralization of food distribution, especially for fruits and vegetables.
They do this by selling starter kits to urban gardeners who can plant them in their homes or community gardens to sell to neighbors who are within a radius of 1 km.
The Pasarkita team will also advise its urban farmers in growing their products through their online platform to ensure the success of their producers.
Once the vegetables are harvested, growers can sell their produce at one of Pasarkita’s centralized hubs operated by a neighborhood resident association that will also take care of deliveries to subscribers. They will then reimburse the funds to producers who have sold their products.
Partnering with these resident associations helps Pasarkita achieve greater awareness and higher adoption rates.
A worthy investment
Vulcan Post asked its co-founder, Hanizar, to explain the idea behind their business model. Why pursue this over proven methods already on the market?
He shared that with the AGC, he noticed the amount of stagnant land that many homeowners were not using. Many also struggled to earn an income while staying at home.
As Hanizar comes from a health background, he believed that Pasarkita would be an opportunity for him to encourage a healthier lifestyle for the public while helping them earn some income.
But Pasarkita is not limited to those whose garden spaces are underutilized. Even if you don’t have a garden at all (like me), you can still grow your produce in a vertical garden like their hydroponic starter kit. These are made by B40 communities from recycled plastic bottles.
The hydroponics starter kit includes 50 plastic bottles, complete with pump, reservoir, seedling and fertilizer for up to an equivalent of 25 square feet of land. This set will cost a grower up to RM400 until their first harvest.
But if you think it’s a high initial investment, Hanizar told Vulcan Post that growers can later earn an average of RM 600 per month by keeping 100% of the profit from their sale.
For example, if a producer sells his vegetables for RM 10 in Pasarkita, Pasarkita will reimburse the same amount.
However, these numbers are only possible because Pasarkita sells its products through subscription models that are priced higher than what you will find in regular grocery stores.
Their subscription model comes in 2 packages:
- Basic – RM50 / month for 2kg of products,
- Standard – RM100 / month for 4 kg of products.
Fresh fruits and vegetables will be delivered to subscribers every 2 weeks in baskets.
Plant the seeds
Currently, Pasarkita is still in the pilot test phase in SS1-SS9 at PJ and is focused on building more producers.
“We share and educate each community on basic farming knowledge,” Hanizar said.
So far, most of their producers are retirees and housewives from these test areas.
Once Pasarkita fully launches their business to the public, they hope to be seen as a community trademark and platform that is also an economic income generator for Malaysia.
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In our forecast of startup trends for 2021, we said we would see more young startups innovating in agriculture.
Indeed, more and more people are now willing to buy products from small players and share their names on social media to show their support.
We are also more aware and more careful of where our fresh organic products come from. So, it looks like growing them in your own community by neighbors you know could be quite appealing.
- You can read more about Pasarkita here.
- You can read more about other Malaysian startups here.
Featured Image Credit: Hanizar, Pasarkita Co-Founder
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