Wednesday, August 5

Sabah can be net exporter of Cavendish banana – Junz

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Junz (left) with Tom at the Cavendish banana farm.

KOTA KINABALU: Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Datuk Junz Wong said Sabah could totally use the success model of a Cavendish banana farm in Cambodia for local and export market.

“This is an investment Sabah needs and it’s a product Sabah can and should be producing for both local/export markets,” Junz said.

He said this after his visit to a 10,000-acre modern Cavendish banana farm in Cambodia operated by Malaysian Datuk Tom Chow Chin Kiat with China technology partnership.

“I was impressed with the modern farming technology applied to produce consistent quality controlled banana demanded by huge potential export markets including China, Australia, Japan and even USA,” Junz said.

“They have the expertise that they even have their own tissue culture seedling farm and also nursery through conventional seedling production method,” he added.

“They also set up their own fertilizer manufacturing factory to produce 10 tons of non chemical/organic fertilizer every month, utilising waste mainly from palm oil cake, where Sabah has plenty. ”

Junz elaborated that the farm employed modern irrigation system which didn’t require any workers on field for watering. “It’s automatically applied through the system periodically,” he added.

Junz explained hi-tech drone system was used to monitor the growth, nutritional conditions of the plants and to apply fertilizer when the trees were tall and huge.

“It’s very impressive!” The minister said.

The operations were mechanically controlled by operators in a control room with modern technology farming system.

Meanwhile, a customised mechanical system to transport all the harvested bananas to the Quality Assurance & Quality Control (QAQC) department and then to the packing factory which significantly reduced the time loss and increase efficiency.

“I also visited their QAQC factory that ensures good quality products to be cleansed and checked before packing.

“I also visited the packaging factory and cold storage room guided by a department head,” said Junz.

Junz informed that the entire farm including manufacturing and packing departments employed over 2, 000 workers and an initial capital outlay was nothing less than USD 10 million.

“I have invited them to come to Sabah and bring the investment together with their knowhow, technology and QAQC system here,” he said.