Singapore has many things to offer to Africa, but no one would have imagined one of these things may be organic fertiliser with the understanding that agriculture is not what Singapore is best known for. Nevertheless, a firm with an unorthodox business positioning, Biomax Technologies has developed an innovative solution in producing top grade organic fertilizer that is rich in organic matter and free from pathogens and odour.

Biomax, one of Singapore’s leading science innovators, came up with a breakthrough technology that converts organic by-products into 100% pure powder-form organic fertiliser in one day. Backed by years of research and development, Biomax’s Rapid Thermophilic Digestion Technology (RTDT) works efficiently with its patented BM1 enzymes to break down organic waste into premium-grade fertiliser that is able to demand an attractive selling price.

BM1 enzymes are a natural cocktail of at least 10 different friendly bacteria with high heat tolerance. They act together as powerful enzymes in breaking down complex compounds into simpler molecules that are easier for plants’ absorption. When combined with any type of organic waste in the digestor, which provides an optimum working environment, the enzymes accelerate the decomposition and fermentation process. With this technology, Biomax Technologies supports businesses in both waste management and agriculture sectors.

The decomposition process takes place in a highly-controlled and hygienic environment at a high temperature of 83°C under aerobic conditions, ensuring that no pathogens are able to survive. Moreover, the fact that wastes are treated in an enclosed system, “the digestor”, means the quality of the final product is independent from externalities such as weather conditions and the way raw materials are mixed, as compared to conventional composting. Produced in just one day, the fertiliser retains maximum nutrients from the original raw materials.

The feedstock in producing organic fertiliser could vary. It ranges from agricultural by-products such as sugarcane waste, grain husks, palm oil waste and fruit pulp, animal by-products such as manure and slaughterhouse waste, to even municipal wastes such as food waste, sewage sludge etc. Biogas sludge - the digestate from biogas operations that are increasingly popular in Africa’s rural areas, can also be used. Regardless of the type of waste input, Biomax’s in-house engineers and experts ensure that there is a good mixture of wastes to maintain consistent quality of the end product.

Biomax Organic Fertiliser contains organic matter and nutrients, beneficial in improving soil structure and increasing soil’s water-retention capability, which is particularly useful during dry seasons. It is also slow-releasing, which minimises nutrients leaching into the soil. Suitable for a wide variety of applications, the fertiliser can be customised based on the type of crops. Applying Biomax fertiliser does not only improve the quality and yield of the crops but also brings cost savings for farmers. In addition, the fertiliser helps the soil to be sustainable and remains fertile for generations to come.

The fertiliser has already been approved by Ecocert, one of the largest organic certification organisations globally, that carries out inspections in over 80 countries. The certificate attests the use of Biomax fertiliser for organic production against the most stringent regulations such as those in the US, Japan and EU.

The implications for Africa, and indeed the global agriculture sector, are profound. Biomax’s plan for Africa requires identifying knowledgeable and reliable distributors who can promote Biomax organic fertiliser in all regions of Africa.

While the advantages of using fertilisers are well-known, the soil in Africa has become increasingly acidic and the cost of fertiliser continue to rise. The use of organic fertilisers is not yet well-known in Africa. Nevertheless, the balanced use of organic and inorganic fertiliser is the most promising potential for the future of farming. This will prevent the contamination of ground water (and some believe the world’s ocean) and the degradation of farm land.

Farmers in Asia have already started the trend of using organic fertiliser to restore and rejuvenate their soil condition. Because organic fertiliser is “food for soil”, there is an increasing demand for organic fertiliser in Africa, especially in the East Africa region’s organic farming community. Organic products that are exported to Europe can command appreciably higher prices.

Biomax has undertaken a field trial by an independent party to study the profit ratios of using different types of fertiliser: pure Biomax organic fertiliser, Biomax fortified fertiliser and pure chemical fertiliser. The study shows that the Biomax fortified fertiliser gives the best return on investment.

Farmers are able to fetch the highest profitability with Biomax fortified fertilizer due to lower cost and improved yield.

Biomax Technologies was founded in 2009 by Sim Eng Tong, a 61-year-old businessman; Dr Puah Chum Mok, a biochemist specialising in enzymes; and Fion Chua, an entrepreneur.

In 2009, after rigorous research and testing, Dr Puah successfully developed the technology, which also proved to be commercially viable.

Dr Puah says: “Our solution is a boon for farmers and other businesses that need to dispose of biomass waste quickly. The resulting organic fertiliser also serves as nutrients for both plants and soil, offering further income for farmers and agribusiness owners.”

The company has a presence in 15 countries across five continents. It plans to open a subsidiary in Africa to penetrate into the continent’s fertiliser market.

As business activities have increased since 2012, the company moved to a facility that is five times bigger than its original space. Subsequently, in 2004, it expanded that space by 50%. To date, Biomax has a workforce of about 30 including a R&D team of six scientists.

Dr Puah comments: “Biomax is a research and development company committed to innovate and contribute to the creation of ecologically-friendly infrastructure that enriches the quality of life for people around the world.”

When asked about Biomax’s future plans, Dr Puah continues, “We are constantly thinking of new ways to develop other enzymes to enhance efficiency for industrial and agricultural sectors. We will be launching new products in due time.” Biomax has won numerous awards for its technology such as the Asia Pacific Technology Innovation Award by Frost & Sullivan; Emerging Enterprise Award by OCBC and the Business Times’ Innovation- SME Award; and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Awards, have all helped Biomax gain industry credibility with its commitment to create a cleaner future through sustainable technology.

This article was first published in African Business magazine, June 2015 issue. Copyright IC Publications 2015. Published under permission by IC Publications




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