August 9, 2009

Many of us think the ‘certified organic food’ we cough up good money for buy has been tested for pesticides. But the ‘organic certifier’ here is the Sarawak Agricultural Department and I dare say bet they some most spend most of their time shuffling papers and auditing the files of those pitiful few farmers for records indicating that forbidden chemicals weren’t used instead of making sudden unannounced spot checks on the farm and sampling of the produce. But I get extremely frustrated when I see farms whose “organic” vegetable fields look the same are as green and pest free as the conventional fields. Honest Conscientious farmers go through a lot of trouble to be organic and they worry about competing with cheaters who just want the price premiums that an organic label can command. Again the Sarawak Agriculture Department should make very routine surprise pesticide tests to catch these arseholes cheaters.

What a lot of us are unaware of is just how the organic system currently works. Organic farmers must prove they are not using synthetic fertilizer by documenting that they are using composted manure applications and weed their vegetable beds by hand. The inspector’s job, besides having a quick look around the farm, is focused predominantly on examining these records which, for all one knows, is completely fabricated. So can we trust an organic label in Sarawak?



5 Responses to “ORGANIC ONLY IN LABEL”

  1. vermitech3 Says:

    Hallo Mr. Kebun,
    Regarding organic label. You see, we make vermicompost and our main raw materials are cow dung, newspaper, napir grass. Can I label my product as organic fertilizer? I use it to plant potato leave and cherry tomatoes.
    By the way, I also market home composting kiy, the aussie, Can-O-Worm kit. Any one interested? It comes with 1/2 kg of healthy red composting worm, Eisenia spp.


  2. thekebun Says:

    Hello Bernard,

    I think to the layman your vermicompost might pass off as organic fertiliser but as someone who looks into the actual composition i myself will not pass it off as such. The reason is in the newspaper ink.

    Today’s inks are divided into two classes: printing inks and writing inks. Printing inks are further broken down into two subclasses: ink for conventional printing, in which a mechanical plate comes in contact with or transfers an image to the paper or object being printed on and ink for digital nonimpact printing, which includes ink-jet and electrophotographic technologies.

    Color printing inks are made primarily with linseed oil, soybean oil, or a heavy petroleum distillate as the solvent (called the vehicle) combined with organic pigments. The pigments are made up of salts of multiring nitrogen-containing compounds. Inorganic pigments also are used in printing inks to a lesser extent. Some examples are chrome green (Cr2O3), Prussian blue (Fe4[Fe(CN)6]3), cadmium yellow (CdS), and molybdate orange (a mix of lead chromate, molybdate, and sulfate).

    Black ink is made using carbon black. And white pigments, such as titanium dioxide, are used either by themselves or to adjust characteristics of color inks. Inks also contain additives such as waxes, lubricants, surfactants, and drying agents to aid printing and to impart any desired special characteristics.

    On the Can-O-Worms? Fantastic stuff. I would be more than glad to write up a bit on my experience with vermiculture and post your contact details for any interested readers to contact you directly.

    Cheers, Farmer Adrian

  3. vermitech3 Says:

    Hi Adrian,
    I really appreciate your comments on the ink factor in my vermicompost.Thanks for the detail informations you posted regarding ink.Possible for me to visit your farm? You have any h/p contact?



  4. Thomas Says:


    Good article on the “Organic Certification”.

    I was talking to a farmer ( very helpful lady) recently in Kulim , Kedah. She is from Taiwan but she bought a piece of land in Kulim for her organic farming / gardening.

    From my discussion with her, she said that she can’t agree with Malaysia agriculture department to certified vegetables planted with Chicken Dung as “Organic Certified”.

    Back in Taiwan, chicken dung is a big NO for organic farming. Thus they have to make their own compost or buy compost from realible supplier.

    In Sarawak, few of the organic farmers I approached reject my proposal to use my vermicompost on the basis they are more expensive than the so called higher nutrient “certified chicken dung” by local agriculture department.

    I have been involved in vermicomposting using empty fruit bunches since 2008, and I think the vermicompost has been doing a good job on my house flowers etc.

    Care to drop me an email at I would love to collaborate with experience farmer to work together as I am doing a lot of trials with other farmers.

    Best regards,


  5. The Kebun Says:

    Hello Thomas,

    I agree than chicken dung should not be considered as a ‘certified organic’ fertilizer. There has to be some remnants of all those steroids and antibiotics extensively used in the chicken feed and what I would like to know is concerning the application of poultry waste and the risks of e coli and salmonella contamination even considered?

    I could go on a rant about the local agricultural department but will save for a latter day.

    Vermicomposting business is something you should seriously work on. There is enormous potential here in Sarawak. From what i have heard and experienced the factors that make farmers shy away (apart from the higher prices) are the high costs in getting breeding stock and the fact that local farmers are just too darn lazy to give it a try in starting their own production.

    Perhaps you should do an after and before (with photo’s)trial run on some different vegetables and flowers. I know my orchids just love it!

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