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Set to be top producer

by Samuel Aubrey, reporters@theborneopost.com. Posted on February 1, 2013, Friday

SIGNED AND SEALED: Sahdan (left) exchanging documents with Tan while Hasni looks on.

Board plans to make state nation’s biggest producer of pineapples, ball at feet of local farmers

KUCHING: With its large tract of peat soil, Sarawak has the potential to overtake Johor as the nation’s largest producer of pineapples, says Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (MPIB) director-general Sahdan Salim.

He expressed hope that Sarawak will one day spur the nation’s pineapple industry as more areas are being planted with pineapples thus increasing the overall pineapple production output from the country.

The pineapple variety to be planted in Sarawak is most likely the MD2 variety known to be juicy and sweet and is favoured by processed food giants Del Monte and Dole.

“We now have growers and entrepreneurs working together with us in Samarahan, Saratok, Betong, Mukah and Sarikei. Also coming soon – if budget permits – we will expand to Bintulu, Miri and Limbang.

“Hopefully, Sarawak can overtake Johor in terms of areas planted with pineapples by the end of the 10th Malaysia Plan because the state has far more peat soil than the peninsula. This depends on the willingness of the local entrepreneurs to make this a reality. They do not have to worry about market, because there is a ready market for our pineapples,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

He also said that MPIB would be sourcing for more allocations to replenish the previous allocation of RM6.3 million in 2010 when the board was finally allowed to spread its operations to the state.

“We now have 500 growers currently involved in our pineapple planted areas. We plan to grow pineapples in 1,100 hectares of new areas in the state in the current 10th Malaysian Plan. We do not have much left from the RM6.3 million special allocation since it was also used to set up our office, so we will request for more allocation,” he said.

Earlier, on behalf of MPIB, he signed a memorandum of understanding with Syngenta Crop Protection Sdn Bhd to facilitate the transfer of technology into the state’s pineapple industry. The MoU signing ceremony was witnessed by MPIB chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad.

Hasni, meanwhile, said MPIB made the timely move to expand to Sarawak as he believed the state could produce high volumes of pineapples compared to the Peninsula.

“The smart partnership with Sygenta Crop is the right move forward because of the 10 pervcent annual increase in demand for fresh pineapples. Our target this year is to increase planted areas to 3,000ha including in Sarawak as well as to increase downstream activities.

“I believe the application of technologies can attract the involvement of youths especially the Generation Y. We have identified areas as pilot projects for this partnership such as Samarahan and Saratok,” he said.

In his opening speech earlier, Hasni revealed that 15,000ha were being planted with pineapples in Malaysia including 600ha in Sarawak. Despite this, he said the planting of pineapples had to be multiplied if the country wanted to be a leader in the agrofood production.

“Currently, we export RM25 million worth of fresh pineapples and RM35 million worth of canned and processed pineapple products. That is not enough,” he said.

He also hoped the technical input from Syngenta Crop would increase the yield and produce high quality pineapples to benefit the growers.

“We are proud that we plant MD2 pineapple variety in the Peninsula which is meeting the global demand. I believe it is high time we grow this variety in Sarawak more extensively,” he said.

Also present at the signing ceremony was Sygenta Crop Malaysia country head and head of commercial unit Tan Moh Yang, who said the company had a presence in 95 countries and employed 26,000 people.

He also said the company had worked with various agencies in Africa, Europe and South America.

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