Monday, July 22

Beekeeping business offers huge potential, says enterpreneur

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SEREMBAN:A honey enterpreneur reminds the public not to limit their business scope and instead do research in their field of interest, especially if there is high local and international demand for it.

SUCCESFUL ENTREPRENEUR: Shaiful Hizam Harman, 37, checks his bees in his farm in Seremban .— Bernama photo

Shaiful Hizam Harman, 37, never thought he would one day be venturing into beekeeping.

In 2007, his interests were more skewed towards the swiftlet nest industry because it promised profits of about RM20,000 a kilogramme.

At the time he researched for the methods of swiftlet farming through the Internet but his effort yielded little results.

Furthermore, knowledge on the industry mostly remained within the Chinese community.

“I then thought about going into the health food industry because at the time, I was running a gymnasium at Wangsa Maju. I saw for myself how people today are more concerned about their diet,” he tells Bernama.

He says the Malay community did not have a specific demand in the health food industry as was the case with the swiftlet nest industry, which is traditionally run by non-Malays.

The demand for the edible nests itself mostly came from the Chinese market.

“One day, I started thinking about the health benefits of honey as I had once read was advocated by the Prophet Muhammad in a hadeeth.

“I started doing research on the supply and demand of honey throughout the world.

“I read the reports distributed by the agricultural department of Australia, United States of America and Europe,” he says.

He says the conclusion of his research was that there was a high demand for the product while the supply was quite low.

“In addition, the capital needed to start a beekeeping business is
still low at about RM12,000, compared to the RM250,000 needed to start a
swiftlet nest business,” he says.

Shaiful started teaching himself the practices of the industry through websites and YouTube videos while also visiting several beekeeping farms around Selangor.

Today, the young entrepreneur makes about RM8,000 monthly from five hive boxes which comprise bee colonies inhabited by some 70,000 bees each.

“It’s not hard to start a beekeeping business.

“It can be done in the backyard or in a fruit farm.

“The risks are less there because if a colony is infected with fungus or bacteria, it will not spread to other colonies,” he says.

He opines that bees are sensitive in nature and is loyal to its keepers.

“I faced some financial difficulties in early 2009.

“Nothing I worked on came into fruition.

“It came down to that one day, I was so depressed that I sat in front of my hive boxes and told the bees my problems.

“I asked them if they could produce a lot more honey than usual.” He says he was moved to tears when his prayers were granted and his bees started producing large amounts of honey.

Management of the farms were easy, he says.

“I only had to go to the bee farms twice or thrice a week to manage the transfer of bee hives to new locaions, occassionally more.

“Each trip will take me around one or two hours.”He hopes the government and enterpreneurs alike would open their eyes to the potential of the honey industry.

In Malaysia, honey produced from the bees which seek nectar from cajeput, acacia, pineapple and starfruit is stronger smelling.

It is more similar to the honey from New Zealand that is produced from
the bees feeding on the nectar of the Manuka
tree.

At the moment, Shaiful is selling honey bottled under the name Madu
Tree online at RM44 per 500g, compared to RM98 for the same volume of imported honey.

He sells the honey through his website http://carambolabeefarm.blogspot.com, where he also offers information on the basics of beekeping. — Bernama