Changing perceptions

A pineapple plantation in Pekan Nenas, Tanjung Piai. The state government is hoping to boost the agrofood business in Johor. — Filepic

JOHOR BARU: The Johor government has allocated over RM60mil to strengthen the state’s agrofood industry over the next two years.

Johor agriculture, agro-based and rural development committee chairman Datuk Samsolbari Jamali said the allocation reflected the government’s commitment to the industry and further its food security agenda.

“The agriculture and food industry is one of the most stable sectors during this economic crisis, resulting in it becoming a new source of income for the government, besides ensuring stability in the food supply.

“For 2021, the state government allocated RM27.65mil, which is the largest allocation ever provided for the agriculture, fisheries and veterinary sectors, with another RM35mil for 2022, ” he added.

Samsolbari said the allocations would involve the development of all activities within the value chain for agriculture and agrofood sector in Johor, and this would benefit all the players, no matter their size.

Agriculture activities in Johor are divided into two — commodity crops and agrofood crops.

“Almost 64% of agricultural land in Johor is being developed for commodity crops with only 36% for agrofood crop activity, ” he added.

He stressed that to ensure the success of the food security agenda, which touches upon level of readiness, usability, accessibility and supply stability, it was important to remember the fortunes of farmers, ranchers and fishermen who supplied food for everyone daily.

“The government has always focused on helping them so that their lives can be upgraded from time to time and they can get a steady and attractive income, ” he said, adding that the agrofood sector had the potential to meet this goal.

“The agrofood profession can also be made more attractive and ‘sexy’ to the community, in particular the youths, ” he added.

Samsolbari said there was a perception that only commodity agricultural activities such as oil palm and rubber plantations would bring in more profit.

However, he said there was now a higher awareness among the public and farmers that with the same land size, agrofood agricultural activities could bring higher returns compared to commodity crops.

The government’s main task, he added, was to provide a bigger marketing platform so that the farmers would have the confidence to market their produce.

To this end, the state government would be working closely with agencies such as Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) and bodies such as the Area Farmers Organisations (PPK).

He added PPK had its own Agricultural Yield Collection Centre (PPHP), which played an important role in marketing various produce.

“The government allocated RM500,000 to upgrade the infrastructure of the PPHP handled by PPK Kluang and PPK Benut, ” he said.

Samsolbari also said that the government would be developing an export agriculture centre through cooperation with various quarters including the Federal Government as well as private and industry players in strengthening the sector in Johor.

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