Startup Instructing M’sians To Develop & Promote Natural Produce

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In my family, buying organic products has always been our concern, where vegetables with holes in the leaves are a good sign.

It’s hard to deny that the organic trend is accelerating in Malaysia when you consider how many small startups are jumping into selling organic products.

We’ve seen startups selling organic products (for example plucking) and startups that give you the tools and knowledge to grow your own (for example The Urban Farmer and Eats, Shoots & Roots), but we have haven’t done it yet to see a startup combine elements of both.

Until now with Pasarkita. It is a platform that encourages city dwellers not only to grow, but also to sell their organic products to neighbors through a subscription model.

Believing in profit-sharing to empower local communities, the company aims to stop the decentralization of food distribution, especially fruit and vegetables.

To do this, they sell starter kits to urban gardeners that they can plant in their home or community gardens for sale to neighbors within a 1km radius.

Use of home gardens to grow products / Photo credit: Pasarkita

The Pasarkita team will also advise its urban farmers on the cultivation of their products through their online platform to ensure the success of their growers.

Once the vegetables are harvested, growers can sell their produce to one of Pasarkita’s central hubs, operated by a neighborhood association that also handles deliveries to subscribers. They will then return the funds to the producers who sold their products.

By partnering with these resident associations, Pasarkita gets more exposure and higher adoption rates.

A worthwhile investment

Vulcan Post let its co-founder Hanizar explain the idea behind their business model. Why pursue this through best practices already in the market?

He said that beyond the MCO, he noticed the amount of standing land that many homeowners were not using. Many also struggled to earn an income from staying at home.

Having a background in healthcare, Hanizar thought Pasarkita would be an opportunity for him to promote healthier lifestyles for the public while helping them earn some income.

Pasarkita isn’t just limited to those with underutilized garden areas, however. Even if you (like me) don’t have a garden at all, you can still grow your products in a vertical garden like the hydroponics starter kit. These are made from recycled plastic bottles by B40 communities.

Their vertical farm also enables people without garden space to farm / Photo credit: Pasarkita

The hydroponic starter kit contains 50 plastic bottles that come with a pump, reservoir, seedlings, and fertilizer for up to 25 square feet of land. This set costs a grower up to RM 400 for the first harvest.

However, if you think this is a high initial investment, Hanizar told Vulcan Post that growers can later earn an average of RM 600 per month as they can keep 100% of the profits from their sales.

For example, if a producer sells his vegetables to Pasarkita for 10 RM, he pays the same amount back.

However, these numbers are only possible because Pasarkita sells its products through subscription models, which are offered at a higher price than normal grocery stores.

Your subscription model is available in 2 packages:

  • Basic – RM50 / month for 2 kg products,
  • Standard – RM100 / month for 4kg products.

The fresh fruit and vegetables are delivered to the subscribers in baskets every 2 weeks.

Your subscription packages remind me of shopping in the market / Image Credit: Pasarkita

Plant the seeds

Pasarkita is currently still in the pilot phase in SS1-SS9 in PJ and Medini, Johor, and is concentrating on setting up additional producers.

“We share and educate every community about the basics of agriculture,” said Hanizar.

So far, most of their producers consist of retirees and housewives from these test areas.

Once Pasarkita has fully opened its business to the public, they hope to be seen as a community brand and platform that is also an economic income generator for Malaysia.

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In our forecasts for the startup trend for 2021, we announced that more young startups will innovate the agribusiness.

This is because more people are now ready to buy products from smaller players and share their names on social media to show support.

We are also more aware and careful about where our fresh organic products come from. So it seems that having them grow in your own community by neighbors you know might well be attractive.

  • You can find out more about Pasarkita here.
  • You can read about other Malaysian startups here.

Selected image source: Hanizar, co-founder of Pasarkita

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