JOHOR BARU: The state hopes to boost food production by allocating more idle land under the permanent food production programme (TKPM) statewide.
Johor Agriculture and Agro-Based Industries exco Ismail Mohamed said that the state wanted to allocate some 809ha of land for the project and was targeting youths.
"Agriculture can be lucrative and we hope to attract more youths to participate," he said, adding that they hoped to allocate up to 20ha to each participant.
Under the TKPM, the authorities will allocate the area, prepare the infrastructure including drainage and roads, plant grass and provide training.
In turn, the participants have to come up with their own capital, workforce and plant crops or rear livestock.
The land is leased to them for between RM25 and RM50 per hectare annually.
Ismail said that he hoped that new participants would plant fruits like nangka, durian and pineapples, which were popular overseas.
"They can also plant chillies and vegetables for the domestic market," he said when contacted.
Presently there are seven TKPM projects covering some 290ha involving 68 participants.
"Last year we produced some 2,065 tonnes of produce," he said, adding that among the items planted were vegetables, soursop, Roselle, passion fruit, pineapples, melons and chilli.
Ismail said they have made changes to the programme based on weaknesses identified in the Auditor-General's report.
"Participants who do not adhere to the contract will have to shut down their operations or be terminated," he said.
The 2013 Auditor-General's Report highlighted that the TKPM project in the state was not very successful.
The number of livestock had ironically decreased as a large number of farmers had either fewer animals than agreed upon or none at all in both 2012 and 2013.
The report had also identified several weaknesses in the programme including the lack of a long-term development plan and proper records as well as poor maintenance and misuse of the scheme by some farmers who plant oil palm and rubber trees.