Boost for farmers

  • Metro News
  • Thursday, 17 Oct 2019

Sim (fourth from right) flying a drone that is being used as a fertiliser dispenser at the Aqina Fruits Plantation Sdn Bhd pineapple plantation in Kampung Sungai Sam. — Photo: THOMAS YONG/The Star

PONTIAN: The government has allocated RM150mil in Budget 2020 to help oil palm farmers venture into integrated farming.

Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Sim Tze Tzin said 75% of Malaysia’s agricultural area was for oil palm plantations, which could affect the farmers if palm oil price dropped.

“The idea came from our Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and was followed up with meetings between Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub and Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok on how to help the farmers.

“The government then proposed to promote integrated farming so that they can cultivate other types of crops such as pineapple or coconut.

“This will give them other channels of income and not depend entirely on palm oil,” he said after a working visit to Aqina Fruits Plantation Sdn Bhd pineapple plantation in Kampung Sungai Sam here.

Sim added that the allocation also aimed to encourage more Malaysians, especially the younger generation, to venture into the agricultural sector.

He pointed out that growing pineapples was seen as having huge potential.

“We have 16,000ha of pineapple plantations in the country, with 58% of the plantation in Johor.

“In China alone, the demand is about 100 freight containers per month for MD2 pineapples. We can only export 20 freight containers,” he said.

Sim said each container of MD2 weighs about 18 tonnes and worth between US$65,000 (RM272,392) and US$70,000 (RM293,345).

Meanwhile, Aqina Farm group executive director Wesley Tan said the company was planning to expand its farm by working together with other pineapple farmers and the state government to develop unused land.

“We currently have 89.8ha of MD2 pineapple plantation that we hope to expand to make Malaysia one of the top five pineapple producers in the world.

“Our main competitors are the Philippines and Costa Rica which also produce MD2 pineapples,” he said, adding that the company currently exports its produce to China, Iran, South Korea, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
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