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The Buzz On Probugs Feeds
This insect farm in Melaka is one of Malaysia's lesser-known "farming" ventures.
Insect farming isn’t new, especially not in Asia. However, with the advancement of research and technology over the past few years, the industry just might be the next big thing in Malaysia and beyond.
A few years ago, Leslie Lim left his comfortable job in project management to pursue his passion – insects. While the mere mention of insects like centipedes, cockroaches and mealworm may induce fear and disgust for many, Lim feels otherwise. In fact, he’s set on changing public perception towards insects.
“No one really saw the potential of insect farming and the right type of technology wasn’t available in Malaysia – or anywhere else for that matter,” says Lim.
“I spent a lot of time and personal effort in R&D during my free time, trying to learn and understand the process. Initially, I started my own cockroach farm to research.”
In 2016, Lim partnered with Wei Hai Bo from China, and set up Probugs Feeds in Malaysia to become the official international marketing partner of the China-based Hunan Haikun Agricultural Technology Co. Ltd. Wei, with over 20 years of experience in insect farming, worked on revolutionising the rather niche industry, applying a variant of ozone water sterilisation to produce their branded Eco-Fresh line of insects.
These insects, which range from grasshoppers, Superworms, centipedes, meal worms and Dubia roaches, currently serve the pet feed industry and can be used for several species of fish, reptiles, birds, small mammals and invertebrates.
According to Lim, the market is still in its infancy stage, and his marketing efforts are currently focused on educating the market on Probugs Feeds’ processes and products. He spent the last 18 months travelling the world, participating in expos and conferences with the hopes of raising awareness and educating potential markets.
What sets Probugs Feeds apart is its technology that allows the insects to be sterilised while maintaining the nutritional value. In the farming stage, the insects are also only fed natural feed.
“Although Eco-Fresh insect feed is costlier for pet owners compared to the more traditional feed in the market, our products are significantly better for pets as it contains high natural nutritional value with extremely low impact to the environment,” explains Lim. “Our sterilisation technology and vacuum packaging reduces the risk of diseases and contamination.”
With the positive growth within the market, Lim is optimistic that he will be able to reduce the prices when he increases production volume. Currently, the Eco-Fresh line is priced from RM70 to RM350 per box.
Probugs’ products may only serve as pet feed for now, but Lim isn’t about to dismiss the idea of edible insects for humans just yet. Especially when this 2013 study by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation concluded that eating insects could help boost nutrition and reduce pollution. According to the report, over two billion people worldwide already supplement their diet with insects; insect farming could also address the rapidly increasing demand for food worldwide.
Hence, Lim sees a bright future for Probugs and the industry. “Insect farming is very efficient with natural resources. The protein yield is high, requiring very little food and water,” he says.
“Large-scale human consumption is still years away but it’s not as far as many think. However, our next diversification is to expand the application of ozone water sterilisation. We are working on sterilised raw feed for cats and dogs that are non-insect based. We are very excited for the future of this industry.”
For more info on Probugs Feeds, visit www.probugsfeeds.com.
Text and photos by Chris Lim
Assisted by Eunice Tan & Naomi Khor
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