Mardi to closely oversee all layers of shallot plan


KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi) has been instructed to closely monitor the growth and production of the new shallot variety BAW-1, which is being cultivated in Perak in a bid to reduce reliance on imports.

Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu said the data obtained later could assist the ministry in formulating a plan for large-scale cultivation of this local red onion.

Planting roots: Tan says he’s very pleased to be given the opportunity by Mardi and the Agriculture Department to pioneer large-scale shallot cultivation.— BernamaPlanting roots: Tan says he’s very pleased to be given the opportunity by Mardi and the Agriculture Department to pioneer large-scale shallot cultivation.— Bernama

The BAW-1 variety, along with BAW-2 and BAW-3, are the three new shallot varieties introduced by Mardi last year.

“On Jan 24, the Agriculture Department started cultivating the BAW-1 variety at a one-hectare site in Kuala Bikam, Batang Padang, Perak,” he said in a post on Facebook.

He said the onion supply crisis in 2020, caused by a major flood in India, resulted in an over 30% increase in onion prices in the market, rising from RM6 to RM8 per kg.

When delivering his 2024 New Year’s mandate, Mohamad said his ministry would focus on strengthening the onion industry this year by having Mardi distribute shallot seeds to selected farmers for extensive cultivation of local shallots this year.

Bernama recently reported Mardi senior research officer Wan Rozita Wan Engah as saying the institute aims to achieve a total shallot production of 30 tonnes per season on a 5ha cultivation area this year.

“Commercialisation activities will be expanded by an additional 10ha each subsequent year, with continuous monitoring and advisory services by Mardi experts until entrepreneurs can fully implement it,” she said in a statement after a visit to the shallot cultivation area in Kuala Bikam.

Wan Rozita with a handful of the   BAW-1 variety of red onions. — BernamaWan Rozita with a handful of the BAW-1 variety of red onions. — Bernama

She said that to achieve this goal, selected entrepreneurs are provided with technical guidance through courses and training, along with free shallot seeds for the first season of production.

She added that Mardi will monitor the correct planting and watering methods before assessing the crop’s performance and how it can overcome insect attacks and diseases.

“After that, we will conduct a final monitoring of the cultivation and observe the harvesting process to ensure that the shallots are of high quality and are comparable to those in the market,” she said.

During the visit, a total of 1.5 tonnes of BAW-1 shallots were successfully handed over to a farmer named Tan Cheng Choy, who cultivates the crop on a one-hectare area.

Tan described the assistance with shallot seeds as highly beneficial to smallholders like himself, besides increasing their monthly income.

“I hope this shallot cultivation will yield substantial results because shallots are in high demand in the market,” he added.

Wan Rozita also said large-scale onion cultivation has been implemented in Perak’s Batang Padang district, and Serdang, Selangor, by the Agriculture Department.

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Mardi , Shallot , Mohamad Sabu

   

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