Lucrative Returns For Shrimp Paste Entrepreneur
By Ima Aimi Nadia
ALOR SETAR (Kedah, Malaysia), April 18 (Bernama) -- Many think that cottage industries cannot bring in lucrative returns, so few dare open small businesses, which are categorised under Small and Medium Industries.
However, government efforts have inspired others to try their hand in the industry.
Among those confident of the industry’s potential is Sudin Bakar, 48, a “belacan” (shrimp paste) entrepreneur from Alor Ibus, Kuala Kedah, near here.
He found that starting a business helped improve his living standards, compared with when he was earlier employed.
Sudin (left) started his belacan manufacturing business 12 years ago, marketing it under the name “Rodiah”, before changing it to “Sinar”.
FROM LORRY DRIVER TO BELACAN BOSS
Before entering into the belacan-manufacturing business, Sudin worked as a lorry driver beginning in 1987.
He earned about RM1,200 (US$391.23) monthly and this was not enough to help sustain the daily expenses of his family of 10.
However, the hard work and perseverance put into his belacan business has helped him earn up to RM5,000 (US$1,630.25) per month. With this increased money, he has even renovated the ancestral home his family resides in, in Alor Ibus.
He opened his belacan business using capital of RM21,000 (US$6,847.65) from personal savings and loans from financial institutions. He also received RM10,000 (US$3,261.29) in aid from the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM).
He used the aid from LKIM to purchase machinery needed for belacan processing.
Sudin said although many people viewed belacan as an unpleasant product to market, due to its pungent smell, he found it a lucrative endeavour with vast potential for growth.
He added that it was a highly viable product for commercialisation, being that belacan is the main ingredient for many Malay dishes.
NOT EASY TO PRODUCE BELACAN OF QUALITY
Sudin, assisted by his wife Rodiah Hashim, 48, and children, produce some 150 pieces of belacan every day.
The production of belacan takes some time, as the weather plays a role in ensuring that it dries properly. Also, poor weather results in less product to sell.
The drying process takes at least three to four hours.
The belacan produced by Sudin is sold at wholesale markets around Kedah.
A large piece of belacan costs RM3, while a smaller size is sold for RM1. Sudin also receives orders from Perlis, Kuala Lumpur, and several other states.
Sudin has previously entertained the idea of marketing his own belacan, but high delivery costs prevented him from doing so.
"I have orders coming from as far as Sabah and Sarawak, which I had to decline due to the high delivery costs," he said.
BELACAN FROM ACETES SHRIMPS
The main ingredient in producing belacan is “udang geragau” (acetes shrimps), harvested by fishermen from the shores of Kedah and Perak.
He orders five tonnes of shrimp twice a month from wholesalers, but they are bought fresh.
His wife Rodiah said they never have problems getting continuous supplies of fresh shrimp, and that helps in producing belacan of consistently good quality. (photoBERNAMA)