Pushing for pineapples in the north and east Malaysia

The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry will ask for additional allocation from the Federal Government this year to further develop the pineapple industry and to meet export demand.

Deputy Minister Datuk Wira Mohd Johari Baharum said soaring demand and limited budget constrained the Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board to cope with growing export demand for the local fruit last year.

“So we intend to seek additional funds from the government this year to devote more attention to the industry’s development and to boost pineapple production,” he said. He said the board could afford to export only 500 metric tonnes of pineapple and downstream products worth RM74 million last year.

“The export volume is only half of the targeted 1,000 tonnes. This year, the board aims to export 600 metric tonnes valued at RM100 million,” he told reporters after opening a seminar to increase pineapple production

Mohd Johari said the board would give more opportunities to pineapple farmers to join the Contract Estate Farming Scheme to facilitate the board to channel full assistance to them besides monitoring pineapple yield and quality.

He said Sabah and Sarawak had good potential to emerge Malaysia’s largest pineapple producers in the next few years. Pineapple farming was introduced in Sarawak last year and in Sabah this year.

He also asked Area Farmers’ Organisation to identify idle land suitable for planting pineapple as cash crop. Mohd Johari said since pineapple farming was introduced in the north zone (Kedah, Perlis and Penang) nearly 5,000 acres have been planted with the crop and farmers have been earning satisfactory income.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board director-general Sahdan Salim said 50 families in Kedah, with a combined 2,000 acres of pineapple plantation, have joined the Contract Estate Farming Scheme since 2009.

Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (2005-2010), he said, the board extended crop incentives in the form of seeds, fertilizers and related agriculture inputs costing RM8.352 million under the New Planting Scheme covering 3,480 acres in the north zone.

Of the total acreage, 2,965 acres were planted with the “Moris” variety costing more than RM19 million and would be ready for harvest soon, he added. At the one-day seminar held in a hotel here attended by 100 pineapple farmers from the north zone, Mohd Johari also handed out agriculture equipment to the farmers under Contract Estate Farming Scheme.