Cover Izz Thaqif, Aizat Long and Amirul Hakim of Brotani Ventures

Founded in August 2020, Brotani Ventures is the brainchild of four friends on a mission to make Malaysians eat healthier and happier with their locally grown premium MD2 pineapples

The story of Brotani Ventures starts with its four young founders: high school friends Aizat Long, Izz Thaqif, Amirul Hakim and Burhanuddin Asyraaff Mahmood who came together at different crossroads in their lives for a journey that traded 9-to-5 jobs for the sun, soil and sweetness of a homegrown pineapple farm.

In 2020, amidst nationwide lockdowns and movement restrictions, the four friends took a leap of faith with the launch of Brotani Ventures, a pineapple farm based on sustainable practices and zero-waste culture. The farm's premium MD2 hybrid pineapples soon became an instant hit with consumers for its distinctly sweet taste.

See also: How Social Entrepreneur John-Hans Oei Is Making Farming Cool             

Besides selling whole MD2 pineapples (fondly called Piña Reina) and cubed versions for on-the-go snacking (Piña Poco), Brotani Ventures is also famous for its Piña Lima drink, an invigorating combination of cold-pressed pineapple juice and zesty lime. Developed with the simple aim to make these delicious pineapples more accessible, affordable and–one might even say–more Instagrammable, Brotani Ventures currently produces approximately 10,000kg of pineapples a month. 

Known for its out-of-the-box marketing methods and upbeat, pink-hued social media presence, Brotani Ventures resolved to waste no precious time during lockdown, collaborating with award-winning Brooklyn production company Amanda Sarabia Production for a marketing campaign called Sun's Out Brotani Out, produced by Taha Long and Ana Vasquez with Amanda Sarabia as executive producer.

Despite not being able to produce creative content during the lockdowns here in Malaysia, Brotani Ventures' collaboration with Amanda Sarabia Production resulted in colourful and eye-catching visuals that showcase the active and sustainable lifestyle that Brotani Ventures is all about.

Here to shed light on their newcomer's success and the sustainable, zero-waste values that shape the brand is CEO and co-founder Aizat Long. 

When and how did your love of growing pineapples start?

Growing up, I’ve always been close to nature. My parents love gardening and they would always take us to their farm on the weekends. Back then, I preferred to stay in and play video games instead of spending time at the farm. My love of nature and gardening came about after spending years in New York City and London. I grew tired of the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the big cities. Today, I can’t go a week without spending a day or two at our pineapple farm.

Tell us more about your pineapple farm.

Our farm is located in Bukit Cherakah, about 30 minutes away from where we live in Shah Alam. The land is around two acres, growing about 15,000 pineapple trees.

We were there almost every day in the early stages of Brotani Ventures. When we first started, we would spend our mornings at the farm and after lunch, we would go home to produce Piña Lima juice.

 

How did you feel about starting Brotani Ventures during a pandemic?

I was very excited and motivated. At that time, I had just finished my MBA and I wasn’t really sure about what I wanted to do. One thing I was sure about was that I wasn't going to live that 9-to-5 lifestyle. Instead, I chose the 8-to-12am lifestyle (laughs).

This pandemic is definitely a challenge for many businesses but I have the utmost confidence that our team is capable to turn this 'curse' into a blessing. 

See also: Asia’s First Plant-Based Meat Using Jackfruit

What are MD2 pineapples and what sets them apart?

Originating from Hawaii and South America, MD2 pineapples were developed to satisfy a market looking for exceptional sweetness as well as uniformity and consistency in size and ripeness. 

More: Baida Hercus Lives on a Farm in Pahang with Her Family

What do you love most about running a business with friends?

I love that we have the same mindset and values. We work hard, from 8am to 12am, seven days a week.

Nobody complains because we know the amount of work needed to achieve success. People say it’s hard doing business with friends but this is true only if you value money more than friendship. We’ve resolved that no amount of money will get in the way of our friendship.

Related: Award-Winning Architect Dr Tan Loke Mun Plants His Own Fruit Trees

Tell us about Brotani Ventures' sustainable farming methods.

Brotani implements biodynamic farming as part of our sustainable practices. Biodynamic farming is the intertwining of different living creatures and species living together, helping one another to survive. We integrate biodiversity at the farm by having a few species of plants (pineapples and coconuts) and animals (chickens and ducks).

These animals help to increase soil fertility and the quality of the land. We also heavily emphasise natural pest control. We try our best to minimise using chemical pesticides. It's important to note that not all pests are harmful. We carry out targeted spraying that aims to remove specific pests only and protect other wildlife from getting affected.

How does Brotani Ventures plan to achieve its zero-waste targets?

We’re doing our best to adopt more zero-waste practices in the next three years. As of now, I would say that we are 30 to 40 per cent there.

We produce around 1.5 tonnes of pineapples pulps monthly from the production of Piña Lima. Instead of throwing them away, we give them to local farmers for free to feed chickens or cows. The pulps can also be turned into organic fertiliser for their crops.

We're also trying to reduce wastage of the pineapple crown, mainly from the production of our Piña Lima and Piña Poco. We have about 2 tonnes of it, which we replant at our farm. We are also actively researching methods to turn the crown into fabrics.

See also: 5 Places For Organic Greens Delivery In The Klang Valley

Ultimately, what impact do you want this business to have on consumers today?

We are on a mission to encourage healthy living through our pineapple-based products. Our marketing revolves around making healthy lifestyles fun and trendy. We are also working towards ensuring our products are more accessible and affordable to customers.

Brotani Ventures Piña Reina, Piña Poco and Piña Lima are available online (delivery every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday) or at Groove Grocer, Suka Sucre Bistro, Henry and Camille cafe, Phil's Pizza and Bila Bila Mart. Call or WhatsApp +6019-318 2022 for information on delivery charges or to place an order.

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