PASIR MAS: March 13, 2008 By harifah Mahsinah Abdullah
Agro Bio-Tani (Kelantan) Sdn Bhd proprietor Zakaria Adam holding the worms that produce vermicompost, which he sells for RM3 a kilogramme.
There's money to be made in worms and one savvy businessman is having the last laugh over those who doubted it.
Zakaria Adam, a 48-year-old entrepreneur from Kota Baru, has hit the jackpot producing vermicompost.
Vermicompost is a natural fertiliser formed by the breakdown of organic matter by a species of earthworm, also known as composting worms.
Zakaria first came across the commercial potential of vermicompost when he was sourcing for business opportunities overseas.
"I went to India, Australia and the Philippines and found that it was a thriving business in those countries. I decided to try it here as it is something new for Malaysians," he said.
Zakaria started Agro Bio-Tani (Kelantan) Sdn Bhd in 2006 with a capital of RM300,000 and has not looked back.
His 1.2ha Vermicompost farm in Kampung Bukit Tuku here, the biggest in the country, has seven workers and is capable of producing 40 tonnes of fertiliser a month.
The father of five said he started the business by importing 100kg of the "African nightcrawler" worms from the three countries he had visited.
To produce the fertiliser, a windrow comprising bedding material is used for the earthworms to live.
Organic matter, including animal dung and padi husks, is then added.
"When I first started the venture, not many people thought that it was a viable idea but it has been growing very well," he said.
So well indeed that today, Zakaria's earthworms have multiplied to 400kg.
His clients now include government departments, farmers' organisations and agricultural companies.
The compost, packed in packets of 2kg to 50kg, is sold at RM3 per kg.
He also sells the worms, which measures about 25cm to 30cm in length, for RM450 to RM500 per kg.
There was also demand from neighbouring countries like Singapore and Brunei.
He regularly conducts courses for those interested in following in his footsteps