CHITOSE Group has received  a lot of support from the Southeast Asian countries, particularly from Malaysia.

In fact, among the 11 companies that are in CHITOSE Group, Chitose Agri Laboratory Sdn. Bhd. (commonly known as CAL) was the company that was established after Chitose Laboratory Corp. (2012). CAL focuses on producing strawberries and tomatoes through environmentally sustainable agricultural methods, as well as the purification of wastewater generated from palm plantations by using microbes and duckweeds.

Production and sale of high value-added crops at our own farms
Decompose organic wastewater by using functions of microorganisms and convert it into biomass
Convert agricultural waste into microbial inoculants and enrich soil microbiota in Southeast Asia

There are several reasons why CHITOSE focuses its activities in Malaysia. Firstly,  Malaysia is located in a tropical zone near the equator and has a warm climate. Secondly, Malaysia has an abundant amount of solar energy, fresh water resources and vast flatland. We are also paying attention to the country as a potential biomass supplier in the future. Besides producing strawberries and tomatoes or wastewater treatments at palm plantations which are already being carried out, we also think that Malaysia will be a very important country as a primary industrial base for the algae biomass industry, especially as a location for the production of biomass.

Thus we planned three days tour last month, in order to experience Malaysia as a stage for the biomass industry. In spite of being inexperienced in planning such an inspection tour and there being many rushed guides, it was a great success with 40 Japanese and 80 people in all including the Malaysian participants. 

<Participants’ Feedback>

✔It was my first time experiencing working on an algae business in Asia. I think this opportunity was possible because it was CHITOSE Group. 

✔There are no other opportunities for those who don’t know about the present situation of Malaysia to visit and feel the appeal or the theme by understanding the current state and the potential. 

✔I was surprised by the wide connections between CHITOSE Group and the industries in Southeast Asia related to the bio business.

✔I was impressed by the system that was formed in Malaysia to promote the commercialization by not just shaping the network in the country with cultivation industry or palm plantation industry but also with research institutions such as universities.

✔I was impressed by the power of CHITOSE, involving the government and the research institutions by accurately understanding the local’s needs and the speed from developing the techniques to industrializing.

✔CHITOSE Group is an organization where you can  feel the President’s leadership and strong enthusiasm and the abilities of the employees. I’m sure that CHITOSE will open up the future of bio-industry. 

✔The employees are younger compared to the general Japanese companies, but each person seems to have the right to make decisions  and a sense of speediness can be felt.

Now, let me explain the tour in this digest.

■Event1:A ceremony to open the algae cultultivation plant @Sarawak Biodiversity Centre(SBC)

A ceremony to open one of the largest algae cultivation facilities built in the tropical zone in the world, was held on August 27th (Tuesday) at Kuching, the state capital of Sarawak state in Malaysia in joint sponsorship with Mitsubishi Corporation and SBC.

Check the press release below for more details about algae cultivation facilities.
▷[press release]Establishment of Economic Mass-Production of Microalgal Biomass Utilizing PhotoBioReactors -Open Demonstration with One of The World’s Largest Facilities Under Tropical Outdoor Environment-

We saw Sarawak state, which forms as an individual country in Malaysia for its unique culture, being enthusiastic to work on the algae business as a whole state government in a large-scaled ceremony.

More than 600 people in all participated
The Sarawak Chief Minister is going onto the stage. Besides the Chief  Minister, the Sarawak Vice Minister, the SBC president, and the Senior Vice President of Mitsubishi Corporation Mr.Ohta also gave a short speech. Dr. Fujita is on the left side.
Four companies, Seahorse Corporation, SBC, Mitsubishi Corporation and CHITOSE Group concluded a MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). Check here for details.
This is a photograph in front of the algae cultivation facility. It looks like the Chief Minister was really popular, so Dr. Fujita seemed to have been pushed out to the back by the other key government officials.

You can see a video which commemorates the forming  of the MOU below.

The details of the ceremony and reports about the 100 square meter cultivation facility were covered in many media.

The report introduces SBC’s activities on The Economic Journal which is known for listing of world’s billionaires.

◯Algae World News
This is a media where all algae information gathers from science to business in the world.

Mynavi news
This is a Japanese article. The topic about the cultivation facility was reported.

◯NNA Business News
This is a joint communication media where people from the world check the Asian trends in Japanese corporations.

◯Biofuels Digest
CHITOSE PBR is gaining attention even in the biofuel businesses.

The most authoritative news paper company in the region published an article about us.

About Sarawak Biodiversity Centre(SBC)
• SBC is a state-run laboratory established in order to continuously preserve and make practical use of the biodiversity in Sarawak.
• They are conducting joint research with Mitsubishi Corporation.
• CHITOSE Group collaborated with SBC as a ‘technology’ adviser from 2012 to ‘practically utilise’ microalgae.
• SBC keeps 700 kinds of algae which are expected to be commercializes as functional foods, food coloring, and fertilizers.
• SBC is promoting a bio industrial park design in Sarawak.

Event2:Visiting a shrimp farm. @Seahorse Corporation Sdn. Bhd.

We visited a large scale commercialisation test site where the algae cultivated at the cultivation plant is  used as feeding for shrimps or water purification.

A culture pond is about 5,000 or 6,000 square meter. They own more than 200 ponds. Now, they are tentatively feeding our algae to the baby shrimps in some ponds, but they are planning to expand the number of these test ponds to more than a hundred in half a year. That is to say, using our algae to produce two hundred million baby shrimps.
The scene of releasing the baby shrimps. There are about 300,000~-480,000 shrimps in each culture pond. If you were to calculate, there are 60-80 shrimps per square meter. It’s a little terrifying to imagine.
The shrimps in the picture are known as Black Tiger (scientific name: Penaeus monodon), which can be often seen in Japanese supermarkets. Everyone here calls them ‘monodon’, so I didn’t recognize what they were talking about at first.
I had 10 fresh boiled shrimps for lunch. The faint sweet taste filling my mouth from the juicy shrimps, was something I can never have in Japan and it was great!

You can know more about Seahorse Corporation by watching the MOU animation below.

About Seahorse Corporation Sdn. Bhd.
・Seahorse Corporation is a Malaysian company in Sarawak which does incubation, farming and processing of shrimps. It produces organic shrimps by not using any drugs such as antibiotics or performing chemical treatments to the seawater. It also has culture ponds of more than 200 ha in Sarawak.
・During 2012-2013, shrimp farms all over the world were damaged by blights such as EMS (Early Mortality Syndrome). Seahorse Corporation, SBC, Mitsubishi Corporation and CHITOSE Group started to conduct a large-scaled test together. Application for algae were developed such as feed development and water purification, instead of using antibiotic medicines which have a high environmental impact.
・Reports on commercial-scaled shrimp culture pond tests are very limited now.
Reference)The use of algae in aquatic feild -The present condition and the potential- (Japanese only)

A biomass industry seminar with University of Malaya

The main players of the Malaysian public and the private sectors spoke not only about the global influence of algae but also about the algae biomass industry which is expected to lead the future biomass industry from now on. It was an opportunity to actually feel the seriousness and prowess of their academic level.

There were more than 80 participants including the prominent people such as…
・The Chief R&D Officer of Sime Darby(owner of the largest area of land under cultivation with palmtree oil in the world)
・ The Vice President of Malaysian Bioeconomy Development Corporation(a Malaysian bio industry developing organization which is under the control of the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry)
・The Deputy Director of Sustainable Energy Development Authority
・The Director at Marine Technology Center of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
・The Chairman of Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials (ASEAN Green Chamber of Commerce)

The speaker:
・Dr. Phang Siew Moi
Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences Deputy Vice Chancellor
Dr. Phang Siew Moi is a professor of Malaya University and a pioneer in Malaysian algae research and authority of the world of algae research. He was given a title of ‘Emeritus (an emeritus professor)’ which is approved legally and internationally, on October 12th. 

・Dr. Liew Kan Ern
CEO of Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre
Dr. Liew Kan Ern is also the head of technology of the Airbus, and the main person in the Malaysian aviation business who has a big supporters such as Airbus, Roll-Royce, and the Malaysian government. He has academia knowledge and also a practical view about bio aviation fuel.

・Mr. Vinesh Sinha
Founder and CEO of FatHopes Energy
Mr. Vinesh Sinha is the representative of a company that strategically recycles cooking waste oil from fast food restaurants (McDonald’s or Kentucky Fried Chicken or Pizza Hut), and produces and sells biodiesel fuel. In 2018, the company was chosen as the Forbes’s ”30 under 30 – Asia – Industry, Manufacturing & Energy” award.

・Dr. Tomohiro Fujita
Founder and CEO of CHITOSE GROUP
Dr. Tomohiro Fujita is the representative of CHITOSE Group. He is also a member of Japan Cabinet Secretariat’s Bioeconomy Strategy Council.

Dr. Fujita spoke so fast that the interpreter couldn’t catch up.
Although Dr. Fujita started off by saying ”I have 3 points which I want to tell you” in response to a question posed by a respectable Malaysian ocean researcher, Dr. Fujita forgot what to say for the 3rd. At the social event after the conference, the president of a Malaysian cosmetic venture company said “Your direction of forgetting the 3rd point was so cool! Japanese are just great.” to Dr. Fujita. He said he really forgot what to say at that time, but he felt great at being labelled as “cool Japanese”.
This is a group photograph. The time was pushed back so the schedule had to be changed in a hurry. Even though everyone was running off their feet, everything finished successfully without any issues.

■Visiting the palm industry’s complex facility @Sime Darby

To feel the scale of the biomass industry, we visited the palm plantation which is managed by the biggest palm company in Malaysia and boasts the world’s largest palm oil cultivation area. We felt their desperation to not be criticized about the environmental issues any more.

Palm trees planted along the road. The total land surface of the plantation is 11,000 ha.
This is Mr. Ezzaruddin Abdul Rapa of Sime Darby(Manager, Special Project Upstream Malaysia, Sime Darby Plantation Berhad, Sime Darby Plantation Academy)who gave us a tour.
Mr. Koike (left) is explaining about the palm industry. He is probably the most knowledgeable person in Japan about the palm industry. He used to live deep in the mountains in Sabah, Malaysia for 4 years.
The palm oil oozing out from the bitten surface of the palm fruit.

About Sime Darby
• Sime Darby, who owns more than 11,000 ha of land in Carey Island, has a palm farm, several oil mills, a biodiesel plant, palm shell crushing facility, palm kernel oil refinement facility and a research and development center in that same area. It is one of the largest palm oil industrial facilities in the suburbs of Kuala Lumpur.
• From 2006, a 60,000 mt biodiesel plant started its operations on Carey Island.
•Also, from 2017, a large-scaled port development plan is underway, mainly in MMC Port Holdings and Sime Darby’s properties.

All members forged ahead for about one and a half months from the start of this inspection project, so that as many people as possible who read this article can understand the scale and strength of the biomass industry in Malaysia.

When we started preparations, we noticed that this project was harder than we imagined for the members of Chitose who are a bunch of science people. Actually, there were many obstacles in arranging the program. However, I am full of appreciation to all the participants that accepted the little mishaps with laughs.

Reactions from the participators

There is much hope for further growth in Southeast Asia in the future. I feel that it is Chitose’s keen eyesight to decide to especially focus on Malaysia, where there is excellent balance of the present development and the potential for growth.

I felt the strong desire of Chitose to try to bring life to the bio industry not only in Malaysia but also within and without nations. Chitose is a company which has the possibility to decide the future of Japan’s bio industry.

I see Chitose leading the other country’s bio venture companies because this company was the first to focus on the point that it has a limit in domestically expanding the biomass industry, and also to actively construct relationships with the people in Southeast Asia.

As you can see from the participator’s comments above, I can feel that many people who participated understood that Malaysia is the best place to vitalize the biomass industry, and understood how serious we are about it. Once again, thank you very much for participating. We want to keep on working to make the agriculture and palm plantation sustainable, and of course make the best use of the algae business in Malaysia.

Lastly, I would like to conclude with words from Hoshino who is the manager of this visit to Malaysia, and who is aiming to realize a large-scale (1,000 ha !?) algae cultivation.

Takanori Hoshino (General Manager, Algae Utilization Division)

It’s been 4 years since I started to visit Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, frequently. Time passed so quickly.

In this time I was able to move toward the aim little by little with the support from many people, such as the members of Chitose, who kept operating the project even though they were mistaken as one of the people working on the site by the inspection group from Japan and were spoken to in English, the supporters of our activities in Southeast Asia even in private from inside and outside the country, and the people that supported all the activities from the backstage.

Hose (left), Endo (middle), and Matsusaki (right) who oversaw the project at the site. (Picture taken at the opening ceremony

On this inspection, many people might have experienced the amount of power at the site. I keep going forward so that I can see the 1000ha of algae production base with my own eyes with these people and the people who support us. 

We would appreciate your continuous support in order to realize a world where many people will be happy to be involved.

※thumbnail image: Background vector created by flatart –