Friday, July 4, 2014


Pepper and Pepper Research in Sarawak
Pepper, the world's most widely used spice for food flavouring, is the fruit of the tropical climbing vine Piper nigrum L., native to south-western India. In Sarawak, pepper cultivation dates back to 1856 but more extensive planting started in the 1900s.
Today, pepper is one of the important cash crops supporting the livelihood of about 67,000 rural dwellers in upland areas of Sarawak. Holdings are small, averaging 0.2 ha. they concentrate in certain Districts of Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong and Sarikei Divisions. The present estimated planted area is about 13,000 ha.

Sarawak exported about 19,748 tonnes of pepper in 2004 and 18,824 tonnes in 2003, valued at RM 113.2 million and RM 120.0 million respectively. Nearly 98% of Malaysian pepper is produced in Sarawak. Currently, Malaysia ranks No. 5 after Vietnam, India, Indonesia, and Brazil in terms of pepper production. The production in 2004 was about 20,000 tonnes.

Export Forms of Pepper
About 95 % of the pepper traded globally is in the form of black and white peppercorns. The remaining 5% is made up of pepper oleoresin, pepper oil, green pepper and ground pepper.

The Pepper Plant
Pepper vines thrive in warm and wet tropical climate. They are normally grown from stem cuttings, rarely from seeds. The root system is developed from adventitious roots formed at nodes that are buried in the soil at planting. As the vegetative (orthotropic) shoot climbs upward, a simple leaf is produced at each node. A bunch of short adventitious roots also develops to help the shoot cling to the support. At each node an axillary bud grows into a lateral branch (plagiotropic) which eventually bears the fruit spikes.

Flower spikes originate at the node opposite each leaf. Most cultivars have bisexual flowers that are usually self-pollinated. The fruit is a berry, pale green and soft in the early stage, but turns dark green and hard as it matures. The outer skin (exocarp) becomes yellow and bright red and becomes soft as it ripens. Each berry contains a single seed enclosed by a pulpy mesocarp. The commercial black peppercorn is the entire dried berry whereas the white peppercorn is the seed.

Peppercorn owes its pungency to the presence of the alkaloids piperine, chavicine and piperettine. Volatile essential oils give rise to the typical aroma. Together, these compounds constitute the oleoresin that can be recovered by solvent extraction. The spiciness and pungency are influenced by varieties and also the growing locale.

Pepper Cultivars
Many cultivars exist in India, the centre of origin of pepper. In Sarawakaccessions of P. nigrum and 46 accessions of other Piper species. These materials are used in the pepper improvement programme., the most widely grown cultivar is 'Kuching' . Through research, two cultivars, 'Semongok perak' and 'Semongok emas', have been released to farmers. At ARC Semongok.

Original article from:
Depertment of Agriculture
Kuching, Sarawak,
(July 2014)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

General Guide in Banana Cultivation (Part 4)

Growing banana (Musa spp) are one of the most popular tropical fruits in South East Asia region include Malaysia. There are about 29,800 hectare of banana planted in 2012 in Malaysia producing about 296,900 metric tonne of fresh banana. Most local banana are for domestic market and the rest are for export especially to Singapore, Hong Kong and West Asia. The good agriculture practice (GAP) in banana plantation include all general guide on banana cultivation from land preparation and harvesting and post harvest handling to ensure good quality banana and safe for consumption.

9. Harvesting Banana
Harvesting bana done when fingers are fairly evenly rounded. General practice is to harvest when fingers of second hand are ¾ rounded. Alternative, for tree-ripened fruit, cut only those hands that are ripen and leave the remaining for other day. These Bananas taste the best. However, this process is time consuming and not feasible. The mother plant should be cut off after harvest as the plant can never produce again.

It is advisable to place harvested bunch in well padded basket before transporting to the collection site because Bananas are easily bruised and this will inevitably reduce the quality of the fruit. Once harvested, the bunch should be kept out of light, in cool and shady place. The process of ripening can be accelerated by covering the bunch with plastic sleeve together with a ripe fruit as it releases small amount of heat and ethylene which helps initiate and stimulate ripening. Depending on the demand of the market, hands are often cut into units of 6 -15 fingers or left on stalks and sold to retailers.

10. Storage

Keep Bananas refrigerated. The ripening process can be delayed if you refrigerate it. The skin of the fruit will turn dark but the flesh remains firm. Conversely, do not store Bananas below 13°C as it will stop its ripening process (at that temperature Bananas do not emit heat or ethylene).

11. Post Harvest Handling
Post harvest handlingFor export market, Bananas bunch are usually dehanded and soaked in sodium hypochlorite solution to remove the latex and treated with thiobendasole. Both sodium hypochlorite and thiobendasole are chemical compound or commonly known as bleach.

Note: Banana Planters has a strict policy of not using harmful chemical in the production process. Whilst the Banana skin may look grimy, it’s safer to consume.

M Anem
Senior Agronomist
Ladang Pisang PPK,
Jementah, Segamat,
Johor, Malaysia.
(19 Muharam 1435H)

Saturday, June 21, 2014


SOURSOP (Annona mauricata) is a multipurpose and wonder tree, with nearly all its parts, even the seeds, having important uses in herbal medicine. Few ASEAN Countries is one of the soursop producing country. In Malaysia there are 3 varieties grown known as DB1, DB2 and DB3. Among them only 1 varieties meet the domestic demands. Most of them are smallholders farmers located traditional villages. The natural chemicals found in this fruit can treat numerous kinds of ailments. Soursop seeds are known for its insecticidal properties. It may be reported to be toxic, but do not be afraid to consume this fruit. The flesh is perfectly safe and in case of seed ingestion, digestive juice is not enough to soften and digest it. Soursop seeds appear oval, hard, smooth and black in color, about ½ to ¾ inch long. A large fruit may also contain a dozen to 200 or more seeds depending on the variety of Annona. Also known by names such as Sirsak in Indonesia, the seed contains 13% ash, 8% moisture, 2% crude protein, 8% crude fiber, 47% carbohydrate and 20% fat. It also contains 0.8% titratable acidity, 0.2% water-soluble ash and 17mg calcium/100 grams. Soursop seeds have many herbal medicinal uses. It is traditionally used by indigenous people where the plant commonly grows. It can be used as a fish poison, and if pulverized, it can be effective against pea aphids, head lice (as pediculocide) and southern armyworms. The crushed seeds can be used as parto of the antihelminthic and vermifuge against external and internal parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms. The seed oil is used topically for skin parasites and lice. This article I would like to share with you in "Anim Agriculture Technology" based on my reading anf farm visits.

The black soursop seeds have emetic properties; hence, they are used in the treatment of nausea and vomiting. A tincture of bay rum and pulverized seeds is used to treat vomiting. In Brazil, it is considered astringent, which help in lessening bleeding, cleanse and calm the intestines and help in balancing acid levels. Pulverizing the seeds and mixing it with water and soap can be used as an effective insecticide against caterpillars, leafhoppers and armyworms. Studies have also discovered the A. muricata seed extract’s anti-cancer property. In one study, five mono-tetrahydofuran acetogenin including cis-annonacin were discovered. Cis-annonacin is believed to be selectively cytotoxic to HT-29 colon adenocarcinoma cells. Soursop is commonly propagated by seeds, chosen from fully mature fruits. Due to the recalcitrant nature of the seed, they have shorter viability. If the seeds are fresh, they are quick to germinate. You may soak it for 12 to 24 hours. Sow the seeds about ½ inch deep in fertile, well-drained soil, preferably on seedbeds or seed boxes. The soil should consist of sterilized loam and organic matter. Place it in shade once they have fully germinated, then gradually move it in sunny area.

When sown in containers, germination happens within 15 to 30 days. The soil must be kept moist. Water it once a day during hot days. Shield-budding or cutting method is often used to produce selected variety of graviola. This plant will not survive in winters, as it is strictly a tropical tree. Soursop may also propagate through asexual reproduction, but this is not common practice. Trees planted from soursop seeds (sexual propagation) grows fast and starts to bear fruits within 3 to 5 years. Those who interested to grow soursop able to get more information through reading and farm visits. Thanks.

M Anem
Senior Agronomist,
Agriculture Station,
Pontian, Johore,
(21 June 2014)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


RUBBER TREE (Hevea brasilliensis) are among popular plant grown in Malaysia since few hundreds year ago. Systematic breeding and selection works of rubber clones to improve productivity has been an ongoing process in the Malaysian Rubber Board for almost nine decades. Since it embarked on the process, in Malaysia six series of clones with a total of 185 clones had been developed and also recommended to the industry under the names RRIM 500 (1928-1931), RRIM 600 (1937-1941), RRIM 700 (1947-1958), RRIM 800 (1959-1965), RRIM 900 (1966-1973) and RRIM 2000 (1974 till now) series clones. Some of these clones are also widely planted in other rubber growing countries. The success of the rubber breeding programme can be seen from the multifold yield increase, from about 500 kg/ha/year for unselected seedlings to about 3,000 kg/ha/year in the modern clones. In the past, greater emphasis was given to produce high latex yielding clones, giving rise to a spectacular increase in yield. This was considered amazing given the narrow genetic base of the breeding population and this was achieved within two to three cycles of breeding and selection. But it could not be sustained largely due to the narrow genetic base. This article I like to share an article bye MRB in "Anim Agriculture Technology" about rubber tree as sustainable plants in our country.

With the introduction of new genetic materials from Brazil in the 1950s in the development of the RRIM 900 and RRIM 2000 series clones have successfully increased the yield potential to about 3,000 kg per ha per year. In recent years rubberwood furniture gained wide acceptance by domestic and foreign  consumers after rubberwood was accepted as alternative timber to the natural forest species. Rubber breeding and selection has now been re-emphasised to produce rubber clones with high latex content as well as rubber wood, known as latex-timber clones. Clones that were developed recently are RRIM 928, RRIM 929, RRIM 2001, RRIM 2002, RRIM 2007, RRIM 2008, RRIM 2009, RRIM 2014, RRIM 2015, RRIM 2016, RRIM 2020, RRIM 2023, RRIM 2024, RRIM 2025, RRIM 2025, RRIM 2026, RRIM 2027, RRIM 2029 and RRIM 2033. Some of the promising latex timber clones being developed in the breeding programme for the next Planting Recommendations include KT 39/35, L 7/2, D 9/12, N 25/1, R 30/9, OR 23 and X 28/1. 

In Malaysia every three years, planting recommendations are updated to provide new information on the availability, status, and performance of the planting materials for the rubber plantation industry. Currently, the clones in the LGM Planting recommendations are categorised in two 
groups i.e. Group 1 and Group 2. Group 2 clones are further subdivided into Group 2A and Group 2B. Within the group, the clones are divided into latex-timber clones and latex clones in relation to their rubber and wood productivity. Rubber growers, nursery operators and implementing agencies are advised to refer to the latest planting recommendations. The Group 1 consists of high yielding clones based on at least five years yield data on panel BO-I and two years on panel BO-II with desirable secondary characteristics in large scale trials in different environmental conditions. These clones are recommended for commercial planting in estates and smallholdings without any restriction. It comprises 10 latex timber clones and four latex clones. 

The Group 2A comprises all the new clones, which showed good early performance for at least three years in large scale trials in different environmental conditions. This would enable the rubber growers to select promising new clones with lesser risk However, planting of these clones should not be more than 50 per cent of the area. It comprises nine clones of which seven are latex timber clones and two latex clones. The most promising clone after three years tapping in the large scale clone trials in different environments is RRIM 2007 with mean yield of 2831 kg per ha per year. All the other clones produced mean yields of more than 1600 kg per ha per year. This Group 2B comprises all the newly recommended clones from the small scale clone trials as well as clones with less than three years yield data in large scale clone trials in different environmental conditions. Due to limited data in different environmental conditions, these clones should be planted with basket of clones with not more than 20 per cent of the area planted from this group to reduce risk. 

The recently developed clones with yield potential of about 3,000 kg per ha per year is still far below the theoretical yielding potential of rubber tree, which is about 10,000 kg per ha per year. The sustainable yield improvement through breeding can only be achieved with the availability of large genetic base compared to the narrow genetic base of the progenitors of the commercial planting materials in Malaysia, originating from 22 seedlings introduced to Singapore in 1877. Broadening the genetic base is one of the key areas in future strategy of rubber breeding to reinforce the additive genetic component for yield, girth and other important secondary characters. The utilisation of these large genetic materials collected from wild germplasm of the Hevea brasiliensis and different Hevea spp during the 1981 and 1995 expeditions in Brazil would enable the rubber breeders to develop new latex timber clones having yield potential of about 4,000 kg/ha/year and wood volume of 2.0 m3 /tree in the near future. I hope this article provide some ideas to all readers about the importance of rubber tree as sustainable plants. Wasallam!

M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Rubber Replanting Projects,
Gunung Sari,
Kg Pt Bengkok, Gersik,
Ledang, Johor,
(11 Syaaban 1435H)

Monday, June 9, 2014


ROSE APPLE (Syzygium jambos) is it a type of berry, a pear or an apple? As I told my friends from Europe, this remarkable fruit is not what it name intends, an apple but in Malaysia are known as JAMBU AIR. It was grown and native to Malaysia since I was plucking the fruits surrounding my house in Muar, Johor for many years. Apparently my friend said that rose apple looks more like a pear and it taste like a watermelon. Actually this rose apple are juicy , red in color and attractive for dish decoration. Now I wonder why many people call it rose apple? Where the does name came from and what exactly is a rose apple? Let’s find out in "Anim Agro Technology" about the not very popular fruits in Malaysia called as Rose Apple for our knowledge.

I presume it was called 'Rose Apple' because of the crispy fruits smell and taste like rose water. I really like to eat this fruits of fully ripe with sweet taste. The scientific name for rose apple actually is Syzygium jambos. While its English name varies not only is it called rose apple it is also refer to as the Malabar plum Plum, Rose Malay Apple Wax Apple and also as Water Apple. My corlicks from Dutch did mention about this fruit known as 'Rozenappel ahile' and in Spanish known as 'Pomarrosa'. The French also given a various name to this fruit such as  Jamrosat, Jambrosade, Jam-rose and Pomme rose. In other literatura, I found out that the German called this fruit as Rosenapfel and Malabarpflaume. Even this fruit originate from the South East Asia and its part of the Myrtaceae (myrtle family) but the distribution able to reach South America and Australia nowadays.


The Leaves: 
The leathery leaves grow opposite each other on short, thick stems that clasp the twig. They are oblong in shape, narrower at the stem end. They are 2 to 10 inches long, 1 to 6 inches wide. They are pink when young and become dull, light-green above and yellowish-green beneath when mature

The Flowers: 
A showy terminal inflorescence, usually with four whitish-green flowers on the outside of the crown. The flowers have a faint fragrance and grow in loose clusters of 3 to 7 at the end of branches. The petals are pale yellow, yellow-white or pink and the stamens are uni-colored. In Indonesia the tree blooms twice a year, in July and again in September. The fruits ripen in August and November.

Fruits are about 5 cm long with a whitish-green colour, but colour variations exist including red skinned fruits. The skin is thin and waxy. The rose apple or jambu fruit has a shiny, thin skin which varies from white to light red. About 1 inch long and 1-1.5 inches wide, they are shaped somewhat like a pear with a narrow neck and a wide apex. The fruit curves in and forms a concave indentation from which stiff sepals and the style protrude. The flesh is white or pink, slightly fragrant, crisp and juicy with a faint sweet flavor. The fruit has about 1-3 seeds which, together with the roots, are considered poisonous. Red and white jambu are found in Indonesia. The red jambus are the smallest fruit, sweet and juicy, with the white ones being very acidic. In Malaysia there is a wide variety of color, ranging from palest green, delicate blush pink to deep crimson and a sort of brownish red. Green jambu are very crunchy but not as juicy.

Grow as a shrub or as a medium-sized tree. 7 to 12 meter. Jambu is a small tree or large shrub which grows on the average of 10 to 20 feet in height. Branches grow close to the ground from a short, crooked trunk. The crown is open and non-symmetrical. It likes plenty of rain evenly spaced throughout the year

Climate and weather: 
Requires a tropical or near tropical climate. Growth at altitudes up to 900 meter. Type of soil: Prefers deep loamy soil. But can tolerate sand or limestone with very little organic matter. Planting Distance: Spacing (close range) 8 meter and Spacing (wide range) 12 meter. Insect pests: Few insect problems. Aphids. Diseases: Sometimes there is visible mould growing on honeydew excreted by aphids. Leaf spot. Anthracnose. Fusarium root rot.

Pick by hand from the tree. The young fruit and ripe fruit are almost uniform in  a bunch. Fruits should be eaten or used soon after picking because they spoil soon. Fruits ripen over an extended period of time in proper cold storage. The price of rose apple in fresh market ranged between RM 4.00 - RM 8.00 per kilogram depending on the freshness, sizes, variety and the location of the shops. 

Eat the fruits fresh (the skin can be eaten too). Fruits are crisp with the taste (and smell) of rose-water. Fruits are hollow, the core contains a small amount of inedible fluff. I like too eat fresh rose apple during peak season and it fresh from farm. The fruit also processed to make a 'Halwa' and 'Rojak' as dessert. Sayonara! Thanks....

M Anem
Senior Agronomist
Serdang Agriculture Station
(9 JamadilAkhir 1434H)

Monday, April 7, 2014


TAPIOCA (Manihot esculenta) are one of the most popular crops grown as staple food in third country for many years. Tapioca as a tuber crop able to provide the purest form of starch that consumes as fresh or processed food. In Malaysia, tapioca are grown as minor crops for fresh consumption and processed to other product in factory. In Malaysia from Agriculture Departments Annual Report about 2,824 hectare of tapioca grown with total production of 77,954 metric tons in 2012. Production value are RM 108,996 from an area of 2,360 hectare harvested.  Selangor are the major tapioca growing area about 1,564 hectare followed by Johor (563 hectare) especially on peat area. Most farmers ore Javanese Society that actively grow tapioca for own consumption and for sale. This article in "Anim Agriculture Technology" I post an article about tapioca based on my observation in Malaysia.

There are few tapioca varieties grown by farmers in Malaysia. Normally farmers prefers special tapioca either for fresh or processing. Ubi Sri Pontian, Ubi Kuning, Ubi Sri Medan and local variety among popular variety grown by farmers. In Agronomy Management system tapioca are grown in 1 meter x 1 meter planting distance and harvested after 10 months after planting.The yield harvested shows that Sri Pontian produced 36.5 mt/ha, Yellow variety (29.3 mt/ha), White variety (26.0 mt/ha) and Medan variety only 23.6 mt/ha. The management system is important for expectation of yield production. Starch content claimed to be highest in Sri Pontian Varieties with 26.4% and cryogenic content also highest about 221 ug/g. The tapioca chip from Sri Pontian(see photo next) received 65% acceptance in Sensory Test by professional compare to other three variety. The chip was confirmed as crispy, attractive golden yellowish color, acceptable size and tasty. Tapioca chip in in Sensory Test Program must examine the Original Flavor, Pepper Flavor, Hot Chili Flavor and Curry Flavor. This new Sri Pontian new variety tapioca are the latest crop that local farmers crazy to grows nowadays. The cutting or known as the planting material was supplied by DOA and Commercial Growers at RM 0.60 to RM 1.00 per cuttings.

M Anem
Tapioca Farms,
kg batu 14, Air Hitam,
Muar, Johor,

Pineapple Farming in Malaysia

PINEAPPLE (Ananas comosus) are one of the popular fruit crop grown in Malaysia. The Spanish first introduced pineapple to Malaysia in the sixteenth centuries. The pineapple industry in Malaysia is the oldest agro-based export-oriented industry dating back to 1888. Though relatively small compared to palm oil and rubber, the industry also plays an important role in the country's socio-economic development. The world pineapple production trends have undergone severe changes since 1980's with the new producers entering the world markets. With the world demand for canned pineapple estimated to increase around 4 to 5% yearly, there is a bright prospect for the world pineapple industry (MPI 2001). The pineapple industry in Malaysia is unique because nearly 90% of the crop is planted on peat soil, which is considered marginal for most other agricultural crops. Malaysia, once ranked as one of the top 3 pineapple producers in the world in the 60's and early 70's, has only a relatively modest industry today. The total area under pineapple in the last 5 years was only around 7-8 thousand hectares. More than 65% the pineapple area are managed by estates, which grow pineapple for canning purposes (Chan 2000). 

The export volume of fresh pineapple is small, usually less than 30 thousand tones annually and targeted mainly for the Singapore market. However, the fresh pineapple export had picked up recently to 40 thousand tonnes worth RM 10 million in 1997. With the introduction of the new hybrid Josephine in 1996, Fresh pineapple production only involves the smallholder with combined areas of about 1,200 hectares. By definition, a farmer who manages a farm less than 100 acres or 40.4 hectares is considered a smallholder. It is characterized by small uneconomical farm size, scattered, low in productivity and individually managed farms. There are differences in the average size of smallholder farm in Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia where as in Peninsular Malaysia the size ranges from 0.5 to 1.2 hectares compared with East Malaysia averaging between 1.0 to 5.0 hectares (MPIB 2004).

But now pineapple started to gain its popularity again and the demand is very high. In year 2000 the size of area planted with pineapple is 14,000 hectares with a production of 191,000 metric tons. According to the Statistics Department, Malaysia' export of pineapple in 2001 is 33,416 metric tones amounting RM 9,931,967 The Malaysian canned pineapple industry, being a relatively small industry, plays an important role in this country's socio-economic. The industry provides employment for people in the canneries, estates and smallholder families. In addition, it also contributes towards the other supporting economic activities such as tinplating industry, packaging and transportation. Although pineapple can be grown all over the country, the planting of pineapple for canning purposes is presently confined to the peat soil area in the state of Johor and in other states such as Sarawak, Kedah, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Negeri Sembilan, where pineapple is planted specially for domestic fresh consumption. Pineapple is traded in the world market in the form of canned pineapple, single-strength juice, pineapple concentrate and fresh fruit. The pineapple juice can be consumed as a straight or mixed with other juices or blended with other fruits. 


M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Alor Bukit Research Center,
Pontian, Johor,
(January 2014)