Bionovar, a Singaporean biotechnology company, was established to seek cleaner and more efficient ways of culturing seafood whilst conserving the environment. The company conducts its own research and development, and has discovered a break-through technology for solving problems that have plagued aquaculture farmers worldwide for over a decade.
Aquaculture farmers, especially prawn farmers, are vulnerable to crop failures because of pollution and disease outbreaks. Traditional farming methods using chemical inputs are not sustainable as production yields are falling and they cause harm to our environment. Today, our seafood is subjected to heavy dosage of chemicals and antibiotics, and prawn farming has become a risky business. Some companies have proposed solutions to deal with these problems, often through the installation of special infrastructure such as construction of concrete ponds, deployment of plastic lining, use of filtration and sludge removal systems and so on. However, such infrastructure is expensive to build and operate, energy intensive and beyond the affordability threshold of most farmers.
It is in this context that Bionovar has developed an aqua-farming system called the BIOSEA System or System for Biological Sustainable Enhanced Aquaculture, which can overcome pollution, control diseases, improve yields significantly and yet remain affordable and simple to implement. Working from its Singapore-based laboratory and a prawn test bed in Malaysia, Bionovar has been nurturing the BIOSEA system since 2004. The heart of the technology consists of combining synergistic groupings of naturally-occurring micro-organisms to clean up and maintain clean pond water environment and using probiotics to grow wholesome seafood. The technology is 100% biological and free of chemical usage. The farming which results from use of this system is sustainable as the solution replenishes the microbial flora in the environment.
BIOSEA has achieved several world firsts. For a period of time, Bionovar held the records for the densest breeding of black tiger and pacific white prawns in the world. This was achieved with a closed water re-circulation system using earthen ponds without the need for any special infrastructure. Bionovar was also the first aqua farmer in Singapore and Malaysia to consistently produce 35-gram live white pacific prawns on a commercial basis. Typically in the market place today, pacific white prawns rarely exceed 20 grams as it is deemed uneconomical and very risky to do so.
Bionovar's business model consists of licensing the BIOSEA system. Bionovar works with the licensee in a designated territory to implement the BIOSEA system for aqua-farmers. In addition to providing the technology inputs and technical knowhow, BIOSEA also works hand in hand with the licensee to develop and finance prawn farming projects. Recently, Bionovar has successfully raised funds to develop prawn farming projects in Malaysia using the BIOSEA system. Currently, it is developing a 150-hectare prawn farm in Pekan on the east coast of peninsula Malaysia. Since the inception of its farming operations, interest in BIOSEA has been growing. In addition to business expansion in Malaysia, Bionovar has ongoing aquaculture projects in India and China.
Bionovar also has a prawn distribution arm, Freshwerkz. The prawns are harvested fresh at the farm and delivered to customers in Singapore within 24 hours. They are marketed under the brand "Imperial Harvest" and are appreciated for being residue-free, healthy and eco-friendly. Many customers have given the prawns the thumbs up, commenting that they tasted as sweet as wild prawns. In particular, the 35-gram pacific white prawns have been an instant hit with many homemakers and gourmet restaurant outlets.
Bionovar’s green solutions have taken on more relevance in today’s world where global warming is reeking havoc to our climate and livelihood. Bionovar is re-visiting many of the problems plaguing modern times from the life science perspective and using nature’s approach to solve them. This is in contrast to the past where problems tend to be looked at and resolved from the engineers’ and chemists’ perspective. This life science approach is natural, ecological, conserves the environment and is more in tune with our time.