Poultry farmer Ho Seng Choon, 90, is still the prince of quails; “We should be billionaires,” said the younger Mr Ho. “But while dad is an excellent and passionate farmer, he has never been a good businessman.”

Poultry farmer, 90, is still the prince of quails

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He has tried his hand at goat, turtle and crocodile farming – but at the age of 90 he is now rearing quails with his son. -ST
Melody Zaccheus
Sat, Mar 16, 2013
The Straits Times

SINGAPORE – He has tried his hand at goat, turtle and crocodile farming – but at the age of 90 he is now rearing quails with his son.

Meet Mr Ho Seng Choon, a poultry farmer credited with modernising farming techniques in Singapore over six decades.

Together with son William Ho, 48, he runs Lian Wah Hang, one of two quail farms here. It provides Singapore with 11 million quail eggs every year.

These come from their brood of 130,000 quails and are sold at supermarkets or served at restaurants such as Crystal Jade.

But this could be the “last frontier” for their 2.7ha farm in Lim Chu Kang, said the younger Mr Ho. “Just two years remain on our tenancy and we cannot expand our business on such terms. We are worried about our future.”

The older Mr Ho, who features in the National Heritage Board’s Trading Stories exhibition, has been credited with introducing the battery system for livestock in the 1950s. Born in China’s Fujian province, Mr Ho came to Singapore in 1929. His father ran a provision shop but business was disrupted by World War II.

Mr Ho saw poultry farming’s potential as the population grew, so he sold his dad’s shop and headed to Japan and the Netherlands to pick up livestock techniques.

“Farming techniques in Japan were very modern compared to Singapore where chickens would roam freely and farmhands would have to run around with their baskets in search of eggs,” said Mr Ho. He has published a series of journals on poultry farming and in 1963, he led a rally fighting for a three-cent tax on imported chicken eggs to benefit local farmers.

Two years later, he organised a farming exhibition at Kallang Airport and played host to then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

“We should be billionaires,” said the younger Mr Ho. “But while dad is an excellent and passionate farmer, he has never been a good businessman.”

He gave up his dream of becoming a doctor to help his father. Farming, he said, allows him to tinker with equipment and build things from scratch. “You need to be a jack of all trades,” he said, adding that farmers need knowledge of animal husbandry, nutrition, marketing and business. In the late 1990s, he transformed his father’s fledging partridge business into the successful quail farm it is today. Quails, he said, can lay their first egg at 45 days.

Slaughtered quails are sold at $1.80 each and demand for eggs and the meat is high right now, added the older Mr Ho, who tried selling French quails in the 1960s. “They taste good and Singaporeans are willing to spend on this affordable delicacy,” he said.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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