Saturday, April 4, 2009


I was first introduced to ketola (Luffa aegyptiaca; formerly L.cylindrica) in Kampong Kersik, Jejawi, Perlis by Encik Mohd Fadzil Husin on March 27, 2oo9. I was on a working tour with the State Assemblyman of Kunak, Encik Nilwan Bin Kabang and my colleagues from UPKR N51 (the official body representing the local State Assemblyman). Our mission was to study the feasibility of ketola cultivation as a side-income venture for the people of Kunak.

Global demand
The use of ketola fibre as body bath scrub is becoming more popular around the world, replacing synthetic sponge, especially among health-conscious consumers. At
the moment the company represented by Encik Mohd Fadzil is preparing 600,000 units of ketola fibre bath scrub to fulfill the contract with a client in Australia. They have to decline requests from Japan and the United States due to inadequate supply of raw material.
Research studies being carried out in local institutions also indicate the potential use of the fibre as vehicle dashboard, sound absorber for audio studios and water filter element. A preliminary research at USM (University of Science, Malaysia) revealed some chemical properties in the
seeds of the ketola that can be used to treat diabetes.

Encik Mohd Fadzil gave me some ketola seeds. I kept 25 to myself and distrib
ute the balance among my colleagues. Shortly after returning home to Kunak (Sabah), I immediately initiate my own little cultivation trial. Here is the progress so far:
  • April 1, 2009 - A tray with 25 cavities was filled with soil. The seeds were then embedded halfway into the soil with the germination pore facing down.
  • April 3, 2009 - Two days later, some seeds had germinated.
  • April 4, 2009 - Germinated seeds were transplanted to the field. Transplanting was done with care to avoid damage to the newly emerged radicle (sprout). After covering the radicle with soil, sticks were stuck into the soil around the planting hole in pyramid-shaped formation. This was to prevent intrusion by domestic animals to the seed (as the field was located close to a residential neighborhood).
According to Encik Mohd Fadzil, the ketola plant shall blossom 30 days after planting. The flowers shall develop into fruits that ripen 45 days later.
  • April 15, 2009 - The first leaf appeared.

Observations on this little trial is on-going.
Stay tuned for updates!

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