PEKAN: Like many others in the east coast, Ahmad Nasrul Amir Mohd Kassim never liked to eat ikan keli or catfish. His family members also did not favour the fish because of its "strange" appearance. Also, the popular belief here is that it eats almost everything. However, his perception changed four years ago when he was lunching with several Japanese engineers at the Perodua plant in Rawang. There was no other food at that time except fried catfish and rice. "I had no other option but to join my Japanese friends eating a fish that I had always avoided," said Ahmad Nasrul, who was then a Perodua quality executive. To his surprise, Ahmad Nasrul found the catfish tasty. This prompted him to begin researching on the fish and its breeding. "I learnt that many breeders fed the fish unhygienic food, including animal intestines and leftovers. "Most of the fish were also reared in polluted pools," said the father of four at his parents' home in Kampung Kelat Rendang here. With his vast experience in planning and design, Ahmad Nasrul began to look for better alternative and started rearing catfish in pools made from canvas. His venture took off successfully, prompting him to quit his job at Perodua in 2006 to focus on catfish rearing. "The fish I produce are healthier as they live in a clean environment," said Ahmad Nasrul, who has also developed the filter system for his catfish pools. He later upgraded the pools and changed them to poly tanks, made from high-density polyethylene. "The tanks are more durable, lasting more than six years compared to the canvas pools, which start leaking after a year. "He said the poly tank could also accommodate up to 3,000 catfish compared with only 1,000 in a canvas pool."With the same amount of investment, we can get higher yields in poly tanks and the maintenance cost is also low as the water is replaced every three months." Apart from the 30 canvas pools here, Ahmad Nasrul also has another 30 poly tanks in Puncak Alam, Selangor, and produces about 20 tonnes of catfish monthly. He also supplies catfish fries, poly tanks and consultation services to breeders and shares his experience at http://www.pekanaquaculture.blogspot.com/. "I want to prove to the sceptics that catfish breeding is a viable business," said Ahmad Nasrul, who has had to fund his own venture after he could not secure loans or assistance from financial institutions and government agencies. This year, his company netted a gross income of RM600,000 from the sale of catfish and installation of poly tanks nationwide.
From NSTP Dated : 27/12/2008