Sarawak Set To Be Pineapple Export Hub

Sarawak farmers will no longer be facing problem to plant premium export quality MD2 pineapple soon as the government has resolved the seedling shortage issue.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas told the media here yesterday that industry players are now allowed to bring in the suckers as the government has reviewed its policy on the matter.

“For Sarawak we have resolved the issue. Initially we cannot bring in the suckers, but now we can. Our strategy will be to look for farmers who can produce planting materials for the next one or two years,” Uggah told reporters when launching a pilot Premium Pineapple Farm at Kampung Padang Pan, near here.

Earlier in his speech, Uggah who is also Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development revealed that MD2 pineapple farmers will be able to earn up to RM5,000 per month.

Uggah told the audience that he was very surprised to see pineapples being planted at such a steep gradient via the project and praised Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Datuk Anthony Nogeh for taking such a brave approach in MOA effort to boost rural farmers’ income.

“This pioneer premium pineapple project will determine the future direction of Sarawak pineapple industry. For a start the government will plant four hectares of land with an allocation of RM300,000 – and this pilot farm will become as a nursery to further develop a total area of 129 hectares.

“In the past, pineapples are linked to peat soil but today this project shows us that it can be planted in hilly area on mass scale, this definitely will increase the acreage of land feasible for pineapple projects,” Uggah added.

If all go as planned, Malaysia Pineapple Industry Board (MPIB) predicted that Sarawak will become Malaysia’s pineapple hub soon due to the state’s strategic location with the world’s largest market – China.

“By 2020 Sarawak is expected to become MD2 hub to China exporting about 100 containers valued at RM6 million per month,” he said, adding that China recently has approved the import of pineapple from Malaysia.

Uggah stressed that Sarawak is very serious about developing its pineapple industry as Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg recently had approved RM10 million to build infrastructure for pineapple planting in Beting Maro state constituency.

The Deputy Chief Minister took a swipe at MPIB for neglecting Sarawak in the past, and seemed to indicate it would be giving less than RM25 million promised to Sarawak under  the 11th Malaysia Plan.

“They give us RM3 million previous year and RM3 million last year. I told them mathematically this is not right because RM3 million a year in 5 years will not come to RM25 million they promised us. I am very happy this year they will give us RM6.5 million,” Uggah jibed, to laughter of the audience.

Uggah also praised Nogeh  for convincing him to work with the private sector to develop pineapple and durian industry in Sarawak, and took the trouble to introduce big players in Peninsular Malaysia who have the market in China and experience in downstream durian processing for export.

Meanwhile, Nogeh who spoke earlier revealed that his ministry would import MD2 suckers from a neighbouring country if the need arises as Sarawak raced to open up more pineapple plantation due do great demand.

“For the immediate requirement, Malaysia Pineapple Industry Board will look into the possibility of importing from the Philippines – the MD2 suckers,” Nogeh said.

Nogeh added the volume imported would depend very much on the request by Sarawak government.

The deputy minister took pain to explain the difficulty faced by his team to introduce MD2 pineapple to Sarawak due to certain policy.

“When we first wanted to start MD2 in Sarawak, there were a lot of obstacles. My first task was to bring the Agriculture Department Director and his officers to listen to briefing from MPIB and visit pineapple farm in Johor. Initially we were not allowed to bring in suckers for fear they will bring in disease so we buy tissue culture from a company in Buso, Bau and Pahang.

“I would like to thank Agriculture Ministry Sarawak for allowing this pilot project, and this is the beginning for Sarawak to play a big role in the pineapple industry because as far as Sabah is concerned, they did not accept Pineapple Industry Act and as a result MPIB cannot operate in Sabah, so how they will regulate the industry we don’t know. Whereas here in Sarawak, I am very grateful to Sarawak government for allowing MPIB to come in and set up office here and help the rakyat,” Nogeh said.

He explained MD2 was chosen because the variety is commanding very high demand and Malaysia have exported it to Europe, Middle East and recently to China.

“Protocol have been signed with China, our Minister have signed agreement with China and they welcome our MD2 pineapple now.  Several companies are sending the fruits to China now but is still not enough. China is also importing from Philippines and Costa Rica, but Costa Rica is three times the distance from Malaysia, we have the geographical location advantage,” he added.

Nogeh said the pineapple planted in Kampung Padang Pan will be multiplied as a source of seedlings for Sarawak farmers from other areas.

Source – The Borneo Post