MUAR: The state government has proposed the setting up of plantations for herbs and spices in Johor to avoid depleting supplies of highly valued and rare plants with medicinal value from the forests.
Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said spices and herbal plants including Tongkat Ali and Kacip Fatimah would be wiped out if the producers continued to source them from the forests.
“We are worried that they will be extinct soon unless we start to cultivate them in orchards and plantations.
“Besides, such cultivation can increase the nation’s herb and spice production which is valued at over RM5bil annually,” he told reporters after opening a symposium on herbs at the Nasuha Spice Farm yesterday.
Ghani said that global demand for herbal products increased from RM300bil annually several years ago to RM500bil at present, and the demand has kept growing.
He said that at the same time, the domestic demand for herbal-related products increased from 15% to 20% annually following an increase in health awareness among Malaysians and their growing confidence in the medicinal values of herbs and spices.
He said the state had managed to make Johor a major agro-based food producer for the country.
It was now aiming to become a major producer of herbs, spices and herb-related products, he said.
“Johor still has vast areas of forests, especially the Endau-Rompin, where we can conduct studies on herbs and spices available there,” he added.
Ghani also said plantation owners could integrate the cultivation of their crops with the herbal plants.
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