KUCHING: Sarawak which contributes 98 per cent of the country’s black pepper, is now poised to be the largest premium pineapple hub in the country.
It all began with the first Milie Dilard (MD2) pineapple project in the state with the cooperation of the Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (MPIB) and a local entrepreneur in Kampung Padang Pan in Balingies, Bau with the aim of making the farm a model for other interested entrepreneurs.
With the opportunity available and the full support of the state government on developing the pineapple industry, Sarawak aims to raise acreage of the fruit to 3,500 hectares by 2020.
According to MPIB, the acreage of pineapple in the state in 2017 was 1,342 hectares with a total production of 38,025 tonnes valued at RM48.22 million.
The cultivation of pineapple in Sarawak is the second largest after Johor, according to the board.
MPIB deputy director- general Mohd Khairuzamri M Salleh said based on the board’s monitoring, Sarawak is poised to be the largest pineapple producer in Malaysia.
“Sarawak has extensive hilly land which has not been cultivated and the premium pineapple pioneer project in Kampung Padang Pan has proved the land here is very suitable for growing the fruit,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama recently.
He said at MPIB level, the board had put in enormous efforts to promote and introduce the MD2 pineapple to the local community.
“Demand for pineapple in Sarawak itself is strong as we can see the price of pineapples such the Moris, Josapine and Gandul varieties (non-premium) at local supermarkets reaching RM15 per kilogramme and supply is unable to meet demand,” he said.
In this regard, Khairuzamri said to date, Malaysia is having a hard time trying to accommodate MD2 pineapple orders for export to China and the Middle East.
He said China required 100 containers of the premium pineapple a month while Malaysia could only supply an average of seven containers a month to the country.
“This is an opportunity for Sarawak! The geographical position of the state to China is nearer compared to the peninsula and this will also speed up delivery and reduce cost.
“The shipping journey from Sarawak to China is only six days while from the peninsula, it is 11 days. Indirectly, MD2 pineapple will have a longer shelf life and can be marketed fresher to China,” he said.
Commenting further, he said the state government should focus more on infrastructure, logistics and facilities at the port for smoother transportation and shipment.
“The demand from China is not empty talk as there was a Memorandum of Understanding ( MoU) signed between the governments of Malaysia and China in 2017,” he added.
According to MPIB, the Agriculture and Agro- based Industry Ministry (MOA) has also provided substantial allocation for pineapple development programme in Sarawak.
Under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP), Sarawak received an overall allocation of RM40 million for the pineapple sector comprising RM25 million for MPIB and RM15 million for the Kalaka-Saribas Integrated Agricultural Development Area in Sarawak. — Bernama