Lemang bamboo trader ramps up supply to meet this year’s high demand

Lemang bamboo trader ramps up supply to meet this year’s high demand

MELAKA: Zulazrai Zokapaly, a seasoned vendor of ‘lemang’ bamboo used for preparing the traditional glutinous rice Hari Raya delicacy, has decided to ramp up supply to 60,000 stems this year, compared to the 35,000 last year, in response to heightened demand.

Zulazrai, 36, who has been in the business for five years, said that the bamboo is sourced from Raub, Pahang, and to date he has met the demand of approximately 50 lemang vendors in Melaka, Negeri Sembilan as well as Muar, and Tangkak in Johor.

“Last year, we started selling it in the middle of Ramadan, but this year we started at the beginning. The demand is very high. We will stop taking orders about five days before Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“So far there are orders for 37,000 bamboo stems. The highest order is for 10,000 stems. We also sell small quantities if needed,“ he told reporters at his business premises in Pokok Mangga here today.

A native of Melaka, Zulazrai said that the suppliers have delivered 20,000 stems so far, with the rest expected to be staggered into four deliveries starting this Monday.

He explained that the wholesale price is RM1.30 per stem for purchases of 1,000 stems or more, and RM1.50 per stem for smaller quantities.

Zulazrai, who is in the business to augment his income during Hari Raya, said he preferred bamboo sourced from Raub, Pahang, emphasising its superior quality, with consistent lengths ranging from 43 to 45 centimetres.

“I used to get supplies from Kelantan and Terengganu, but they were shorter, between 33 to 35 centimetres, which are lower in demand among lemang vendors,“ said Zulazrai, who also runs a sugarcane business and sells health products online.

Aiming for gross sales of between RM70,000 to RM80,000 this year, he highlighted the numerous risks inherent in the lemang bamboo business, particularly the adverse effects of hot weather, which can potentially damage the bamboo.

Given the prevailing hot weather conditions in Melaka, he explained that the bamboo needs to be watered at least five times a day to maintain moisture levels and prevent cracking or splitting.

Zulazrai explained that upon arrival, the bamboo is sorted and separated by length, diameter, and quality before being bundled for sale.

“Usually, over 600 out of every 10,000 stems we receive are damaged and broken. We cannot return or exchange them as they are bought wholesale,“ he said.

He also mentioned that he has a stock of 4,000 lerek leaves for sale at RM0.50 each, which are used in making lemang.


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