Sabah seeks to become major regional pineapple supplier

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah hopes to push ahead with pineapple production by working on a new strategy with the Federal Government, says Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.

The Sabah Deputy Chief Minister said that the state Agriculture and Fisheries Ministry will form a strategic collaboration with its federal counterpart, the Agriculture and Food Industry Ministry (MAFI), to develop the pineapple industry in Sabah into a major regional supplier.

Jeffrey said the collaboration will see representatives from both ministries form a committee to help strategise ways to increase the productivity of the pineapple industry in Sabah.

“Currently, the industry only produces less than RM200mil worth of pineapples per year. With this collaboration, we hope to increase the acreage to 4,100ha in five years with a production value of RM643mil.

“This would also increase our participants’ monthly income to an average of RM8,900, and the industry is expected to provide 26,000 jobs to the locals,” he said after a meeting MAFI deputy secretary-general Datuk Badrul Hisham Mohammad at Wisma Pertanian here Monday (Oct 18).

Jeffrey said the collaboration was necessary because Sabah cannot afford to fall behind in the growing food market, such as pineapple.

He stated that both parties have been discussing the issue for the past 14 years with no resolution in sight, and further delays would hamper the growth of the pineapple industry in Sabah.

“This decision was made after careful consideration of the sensitivity of the issue. Agriculture falls under the state list, and we will defend this right.

“In fact, Sabah has already decided to set up its own Sabah Pineapple Industry Board soon to protect our interests, but it does not mean we cannot cooperate with the Federal Government on this,” he said, adding that Sabah could learn from the Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (MPIB).

Through the collaboration, the federal ministry will assist in land development and centralised production, as well as in the establishment of the Fruit Valley of Sabah and the Rural Micro Business System (RMBS).

Other programmes include the Swiftlet Paradise of Sabah, community farm (kebuniti), Young Agropreneur Programme, Integrated Entrepreneur Development, collection and processing centres and grading and marketing centres.

“Sabah has enormous potential in the pineapple industry. The main issue is the lack of supply of pineapple suckers or pups and we must do whatever it takes, including establishing more nurseries, to ensure the industry’s sustainability,” he said.

Jeffrey believes that once the supply issue is resolved, Sabah could become one of the region's main pineapple suppliers.

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