‘Uniquely Sarawak’ soaps

Incorporating dabai, sago and rice into soaps to make it native to the state

NATURAL OPTIONS: A compilation of Biotech Synergy’s natural products under the brand names Borneo Botanicals and Nature’s Best.

KUCHING: Venturing into value-added products is one stepping stone to put oneself above competitors, as witnessed by Biotech Synergy Farm Sdn Bhd (Biotech Synergy) in its mission to come up with more products from goat’s milk.

This sentiment was expressed by principal director Cassandra Havelock during her courtesy call on The Borneo Post earlier this week.

“Goat’s milk and other dairy products have a quick sell-by date. So, we aim to venture into other possibilities with longer due dates such as soaps, shampoos, moisturisers and so on while making full use of the beneficial qualities of the milk,” she affirmed.

Under the brand name Borneo Botanicals, examples of such forays were the group’s use of distinctive Sarawak additions in its goat’s milk soaps like ‘dabai’ (local olive), sago, pepper, ‘kacangma’ and even local rice varieties such as red rice, black rice, brown rice and Jawa rice.

The group’s joint development efforts with Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) and Agricultural Research Centre (ARC) allowed Biotech Synergy to incorporate local essences to make it native to Sarawak while keeping its products as natural as possible.

One particular highlight that puts Sarawak on the global map, said Cassandra, was ‘dabai’ (scientifically known as Canarium odontophyllum) which was a seasonal fruit indigenous to Sarawak.

“It is an underutilised fruit in the state due to its quick deterioration rate of about three days. People usually consume it when it is in season, but other than that, it goes to waste. We then thought of incorporating it into our goat’s milk soaps and the result was fantastic,” Cassandra said.

“Its high content of fat and fatty acids add to the moisturising and hydrating properties of the soap. The fruit is naturally rich in antioxidants and minerals as well.”

In fact, current studies from University Putra Malaysia (UPM) backed this stance, highlighting that the main fatty compositions of ‘dabai’ were very similar to that of palm oil – a common ingredient in soap-making.

“Trial orders of Borneo Botanical Dabai Moisturising Soap and other soaps have already been sent to countries such as France and the principality of Monaco (Monte Carlo). We are currently looking at places such as Qatar next year with Matrade (Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation),” Cassandra added.

Apart from Borneo Botanicals, the group also has another brand name, Nature’s Best, to cater for users who prefer imported infusions in its soaps like lavender, palmarossa and bergamot on top of shea butter, extra-virgin olive oil, almond oil, avocado and vanilla extracts.

“Our farm-made soap produces a dense soap although it does not contain any colouring, fragrance, parabens, propylene glycols, SLS and lather boosters.

“We use the freshest and highest quality ingredients such as Vitamin E which deteriorates slower. This is why even without any artificial preservatives, our soaps can last very long.”

The group’s co-principal director Fred Lee added that they also combined the natural loofah scrub with its soaps to form the one-of-a-kind Doc Loofah scrubs with the aim of uniting the best of both worlds.

“This also helps the local farmers who have hundreds of natural loofah scrubs produced as a side business but with low demand for it,” Lee said. “In a way, our ventures into dabai and loofah scrubs are helping the local economy as well.”

Havelock added, “Next year, we aim to produce goat cheese and be the first goat cheese farm in Sarawak. This will show other farmers not to solely depend on milk as a product.”

Lee stressed on the company’s focus on both downstream as well as upstream processes being the underlying strength of Nature’s Farm’s operational success to date.

“We can work well, because we control the supply chain from the source,” he said. “This goat-rearing venture is not a hobby for us. We put our heart and soul into it. Agriculture is not a sunset industry – we need to change the mindset of the community to realise that.”

Thanks to the duo’s innovative ideas and determined zeal, several government bodies and companies are giving grants and awards to in recognition of its well-earned work.

In fact, Sarawak’s Veterinary Services under the Agriculture Department has made the group a model farmer for its admirable practices and innovation.

“In fact Sarawak Biodiversity Centre’s chief operating officer Dr Rita Manurung and her staff have also been giving us the support. We are very fortunate that a lot of depertments that we deal with have given us their strong support and a lot of them offer their expertise and time so that we can strive to be better at what we do,” Lee said.

He added that the group, which had already ventured into making soaps, shampoos, loofah body scrubs and such, was looking to expand its product range to cater to pet care.

“This is a big untapped market, especially for pets that are sensitive to chemicals. We are currently conducting test on pets with positive results,” Lee affirmed.

“Now, we are repositioning our target market to the vegan market. This market is bigger on a global scale. We fit perfectly with our use of strictly-natural products,” Havelock revealed.

In line with this, Nature’s Farm is currently looking for agents throughout the country and abroad to help with its marketing and distribution front.

“We plan to maintain our focus on research and development to come up with variety and other products. Our soap production and sale is now stable in the state so we are now thinking of going nationwide with it.”

Within the next two years, the company hopes to do more value-adding as well as research and development to its business to further implore possibilities.

For further information, call Havelock at 017-2286696 or email to [email protected]

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