Growing chilli on campus to gain income, new skills

Prof Ismail (second from right) with Johor Fama director Shahrizan Sudirman (left) admiring the mature chilli plants at UiTM campus in Segamat.

More than 400 chilli plants have been planted at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Johor as a way to help students earn an income while furthering their studies at the campus in Segamat.

The project, which started on Nov 20 last year, is a joint effort between UiTM Johor, Malaysian Academy of SME and Entrepreneurship Development (Masmed) and Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) Johor.

UiTM Johor campus rector Prof Dr Ismail Ahmad said continuous income generation had always been one of the university’s main agendas during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

“Students and their parents have been affected by the pandemic, so fertigation projects such as this can give students a new set of skills.

“With guidance from Fama’s top agropreneur, we hope that our students can emulate the success of chilli farmers under the agency, so that they too can quickly learn the business and be independent, ” he said when contacted in Johor Baru.

He said 30 students were selected to participate in the pilot project and they would be maintaining the plants, harvesting and selling the produce at the local market.

“The first harvest is expected to take place middle of this month.

“After that, the plants can be harvested every six months, with expected yields worth RM17,000.

“The chilli is of the capsicum frutescens (also known as cili centil) variety and its price can go as high as RM26 per kg, ” he elaborated.

Prof Ismail said the agropreneur sector was one of the least explored, especially by youths.

“This type of business also offers a high income and the government, through its agencies, has prepared an allocation in the form of financial aid, machinery and the latest technology to help modern farmers today, ” he pointed out.

He highlighted that UiTM Johor also had ample land bank with over 141ha yet to be developed.

“UiTM believes that the agropreneur sector has potential for expansion.

“In order to achieve this, the university is ensuring that each student will have the same chance to work with the industries and community to ensure high graduate employability.

“Agropreneurship is one of the least popular choices for students after graduating, but with constant exposure and information sharing, we believe that we can strengthen this sector, ” he added.

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