by | Ramaness Parasuraman, CEO, Free The Seed Sdn Bhd
I was inspired to start this green-journey back in 2005 due to a “problem statement”, which is Global Warming.
In the course of my professional career as Carbon Footprint Auditor for the United Nation, I observed many catastrophe environmental pollutions and degradations activities by the mankind all over the world, especially the open-burning activities of the agriculture biomass materials that contribute to serious Climate-Change.
In Malaysia, our paddy farmers also practice the same unsustainable way of agricultural practices, that is an open-burning of rice-fields during the post-harvest seasons.
These have triggered me to find and create sustainable yet economically viable solutions for win-win situations to all the stakeholders. This is where the idea to convert agro-waste materials through the extraction of cellulose fibers for the production of biodegradable packaging products came-in.
Just Green is a biodegradable packaging product that uses a method of delignification of the biomass cellulose fibers, and gratifying the fibers by impregnating with papain protease serene. This is to ensure that our biodegradable packaging products will compost naturally within six months from the time of disposal, in any soil and conditions.
The strength of the idea is the core biotechnology for Just Green to be invented and patented. 100% organic materials are being used to convert the waste biomass materials into high value-added product. It is green-clean-cost saving!
What are the motivation to pursue the idea?
The initiative is implemented in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia and involves 1,300 paddy smallholders. Existing stockpiles of rice husks and rice straw are purchased and converted into environmental friendly products.
As these waste stockpiles deplete, so do the incidence of open burning, and the readily compostable nature of the end-product ensures no further addition of harmful waste material into the environment. As the project progresses, the sector will see a stream of direct and indirect benefits in the form of additional income from the sale of paddy waste material, associated pre-processing activities, and the introduction of sustainable standards.
This project will directly impact the lives of 1,300 farmers, and the number is expected to grow to 30,000 as the project goes full steam ahead in 2017. An estimated 47,000 hectares of paddy field is expected to achieve Zero Open Burning, translating into an estimated reduction of 600,000 kg of CO2 per annum. With these achievements, the paddy crop sector could lead the way, showcasing what is possible through the thoughtful application of technology, and paving the way to establish Malaysia as a low-carbon agriculture production country while remaining sensitive to the needs of farmers. It is also expected that this initiative will catalyze the creation of an entire biodegradable product packaging value chain, the emergence of knowledge workers, and significant economic activity which will have positive impacts on the local and national economy.
The continuous strong technical, funding and leadership support by the respective Government Ministries and Agencies throughout our entrepreneurial journey since 2005, notably, BIOTECHCORP, CRADLE, SME CORP and, of course, MIGHT’s GCIP has motivated us to pursue this challenging journey to achieve the goal and vision of placing Malaysia as one of the Global Hub for Bio-Materials.
Our way forward
During the IGEM 2015, a Joint-Collaboration was inked between Free The Seed and the Paddy-Farmers from Kedah. With the great leadership and support from MIGHT and the GCIP Team, we have created a great sense of hope to the farmers and new entrepreneurs, where, under the Farmers Poverty Eradication Program, more than 30,000 farmers would be able to generate additional income by eliminating the open-burning of rice straws and converting them into biodegradable packaging products for the global market. This initiative would generate a new economy and entrepreneurial space for them.
Free The Seed’s ultimate vision is still ‘To Be The Top-10 Bio-Packaging Company in the World’ with RM1 billion market-capitalization and to mitigate 1% of world’s global warming through our product technology.
In five years’ time, Free The Seed would have 30 factories in Asia and Europe; which will be realized by ways of IPO and M&A.
GCIP is a great tool for Start-Up SME-companies like us to convert ideas into reality. In our case, it is through this GCIP that we managed to compete and win the world-class competition which becomes a validation for our business and technology offerings. And, it is through GCIP that we were to fly to Silicon Valley, USA and got connected with conglomerate organization to further accelerate the scaling-up of our business and penetrate the global market. Our vision to become the Top-10 company in the world is made possible by GCIP!
Based on the valuable experience, I would certainly promote GCIP to other start-ups. In fact, we are already promoting to our supply-chain of start-ups SME to tap the vast opportunities of GCIP – which provides two significant platforms; Market Access and Funding Access.
In addition, the coaching and mentoring support provided by Axile Consulting in GCIP is simply superb, productive and resourceful.