The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) with the cooperation of the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) have successfully ventured into ruminant food production using oil palm fronds.
The venture in fact has resulted in the world's first factory producing animal food pellets using oil palm fronds. The factory is located at Felda Bukit Sagu, near here, and started operations in July 2008. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Ahmad Maslan during a recent visit to the factory said the government is hopeful that the factory would serve as the pioneer for many more similar breakthrough ventures in the future.
The pellets, manufactured using technology from Japan and Germany, is enjoying good demand in the market now and even livestock breeders from Canada and South Korea have shown interest in buying the product.
"The factory can complement the government's effort to boost livestock farming in order to achieve 28 percent local meat output and 16 percent dairy output by 2010.
"Therefore, high quality animal feed that can be supplied throughout the year is crucial in fulfilling this goal. And we are confident that the pellets from palm oil fronds can contribute to our efforts in boosting the livestock sector," said Ahmad.
WHAT IS SO GREAT ABOUT THE PELLETS
Jamil Md Yasin, the manager of the Kilang Oil Palm Frond (OPF) in Felda Bukit Sagu, explained that the factory was erected on 1.5 hectares of land at a cost of RM14.1 million.
"The factory produces food pellets for cows and goats and our aim is to emerge as the nation's foremost animal feed supplier," he said in an interview with Bernama recently.
According to Jamil, the formulation for the pellets is specially prepared based on the animal's nutritional needs, which includes protein, fiber, fat and minerals, to promote good growth, fast breeding and good health for the animals.
The factory produces two types of pellets, blended and the plain fronds.
"The blended pellets are specially formulated to enhance the physiological and physical development of the animal. It is free from toxic substances, heavy metals and other harmful elements.
"The blended feed pellets are sold at RM30 for a 40 kilogram (kg) bag, and the pellet made from 100 percent fresh palm frond is sold at RM17 for a 40kg bag," he said.
Breeders need not worry of the product expiry date because the pellets made from 100 percent fresh fronds can last up to two years but the blended pellets only lasts up to three months.
A study conducted found that a cow that consumed 7 kg of the pellets per day gained weight between 0.8 kg and 1kg per day while dairy cows fed with 14kg of the feed per day could produce up to 21 liters of milk per day.
The study also noted that goats of the bore breed gained weight of more than 180 gram per day after being fed with the pellets.
OPPORTUNITY FOR SETTLERS TO ENHANCE INCOME
"This factory is capable of producing 1,200 tonnes of pellets per shift per month and the workers here work three shifts per day. At present there are 13 workers and mostly are children of the settlers," said Jamil.
The factory also provides an avenue for nearby land schemes settlers to seek additional income.
"The settlers can sell the palm oil frond to the factory and we offer them a reasonable price of RM65 per tonne. Up to know the factory has spent RM93,558 to buy the fronds from the settlers," said Jamil.
There is no shortage of supply for the fronds as there are 17,000 hectares of palm oil plantation in Felda Bukit Sagu 1, Bukit Sagu 2, Bukit Goh and Bukit Kuantan.
"Other than that, there are 61,000 hectares of oil palm plantation at the Kuantan Felda Region and thus there is no problem in securing a steady supply of palm fronds," added Jamil.