Penang eyes new agrotourism site

GEORGE TOWN: A part of the hill-valley in Paya Terubong here will be turned into a RM40mil agrotourism site for adventure seekers and nature lovers.

Upon completion, the development will comprise a durian orchard, a livestock feeding area, viewing areas, campsites and places for recreational activities such as hiking and glamping (a more glamorous form of camping).It will be developed by KAT Resources on land belonging to Penang Development Corporation (PDC), the state’s investment arm.

The first five years will see RM20mil being spent on agriculture development and infrastructure work, while the remaining sum will be used on the implementation of tourism development.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the project, covering an area of 165ha, would become another tourism icon in the state with the creation of 400 jobs.

He said Kat Resources would have to get approval such as planning permission from the relevant agencies and carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment.

“The project is expected to begin after getting the necessary approvals within a year. As it involves ‘green’ areas, we will take into account the issues of drainage, slopes and valleys. We will ensure that everything is done in a safe manner and in compliance with the guidelines,” he added.Chow said a section of the area had been illegally encroached for agricultural activities. He said the farmers involved might be given a chance to lease a small plot of land to continue with their farming, but this has to be further discussed.“This will allow for a more systematic and planned development of the land that will benefit both the state and tourism industry,” he told a press conference after witnessing the lease signing between PDC chief executive officer Datuk Aziz Bakar and KAT Resources chief executive officer Teoh Kok Aun at Komtar yesterday.Aziz said the 45-year lease deal would generate an income of RM24mil for the state.

“PDC will identify a certain tract of the area to be maintained. We will get help from the Agriculture Department to set a guideline in making sure a significant amount of greenery is protected,” he said.

Teoh said the project would create about 400 jobs, with RM3mil expected to be generated from agriculture yield and RM5mil from tourism activities yearly.“This doesn’t include the spillover effect that will benefit hotels, transport as well as the food and beverage industry,” he said.

Also present at the signing ceremony were Penang agrotechnology, food security and cooperative development committee chairman Fahmi Zainol and state housing and environment committee chairman Datuk Seri S. Sundarajoo.

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