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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

CASHING IN ON COCONUTS

This article about a report from the Star title as "Cashing in On Coconut'. It refers to my blog. According to a blog post by M. Anem (animagro.blogspot.com ), a senior agronomist from the horticulture division of the Department of Agriculture, based on a calculation of 124 trees (the ideal number of trees per hectare), production rates can vary from 6,000 to 30,000 nuts a year, depending on the nut species. Among the species, the Malaysian Dwarf coconut is the most prolific of fruiters. An average price of 60 sen per nut for 11,000 coconuts would bring a plantation owner gross income of RM6,600 per year per hectare, minus the one-off initial development costs of RM4,344 per hectare. At last count, the total area for the major coconut growing states of Perak, Johor, Selangor, Sabah and Sarawak is believed to cover 88,190ha. Based on the above calculation, just the nuts alone would generate estimated revenue in the region of RM500mil a year. This article in ''Anim Agriculture Technology'' I share my views from this report.

As full-time model Siti An Naseha Ibrahim, 23, reveals, her parent’s 20-year-old coconut milk business at the Muhibbah Market in Taman Nirwana, Ampang, has afforded her stepfather an Audi TTS and her mother, a Mini Cooper S. As a birthday present last year, Siti herself received a yellow MyVi Special Edition. Their main customers are restaurants and caterers. It’s not so surprising that Siti’s parents have been able to thrive on this creamy ingredient. Take for example the often reviewed Ah Loy Curry Mee in Jalan Hujan Rahmat 3, off Jalan Kelang Lama. A typical day sees the business using no less than 100 coconuts for its sinfully rich curry gravy. And let’s not forget the silky smoothness of coconut oil. According to the Mundi Index of country profiles, Malaysia’s contribution to coconut oil production hovered at 35,000 tonnes last year. As of November 2012, the price per tonne was RM2,600, which means coconut oil pumped RM91mil into the country’s economy.

Tan Boon Yoong, age 55 of Biococo Marketing is one of the entrepreneurs who have jumped on this nutty bandwagon. A former advertising manager, the father of one started a company to market organic virgin coconut oil as a beauty oil and health product six years ago. Concentrating on a niche market, the Biococo range of products comprises of soaps, skin serums and edible virgin coconut oil. Tan started by introducing his products to pharmacies within the Klang Valley. Since then, sales have increased by 50% on a yearly basis as he ventured to other states and eventually overseas to Singapore, Australia, China and the United Kingdom. “Our current best sellers are the beauty products, with our skin repair serum which has anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle properties being very popular,” said Tan. Reporting yearly sales turnover of RM500,000 currently, Tan’s strategy is not to aim at the mass market but to target individually owned pharmacies where the owners are the backbone of the business. For him, nothing beats the personal approach when it comes to spreading product awareness. “Usually, these business owners will have better customers rapport than the chain stores, which translates to better acceptance of coconut oil as a health product. As it is, there is a public misperception about coconut oil which has to be dealt with,” said Tan, who cites this as one of his biggest challenges in addition to the current preferences of local farmers to focus on palm oil which promises a quicker and higher returns. With products priced between RM35 and RM140, Tan gets his supply of raw material from plantations along the west coast. He only selects mature coconuts that are no less than 12 months old for their thick, white flesh, and pays around RM2 per nut.


A typical order arrives at the plantation early in the morning where the nuts are dehusked to be sent to Tan’s factory by afternoon where the maximum output capacity is some 10,000 units of 250ml bottles of oil per month. The process, currently kept a company secret as Tan has yet to patent the technology, is 100% heat-free so that all nutrients in the oil are preserved. For many, the coconut maintains an evergreen appeal and in Lee Zhen Yi’s case it takes the form of a cooling and delicious jelly. The 56-year-old owner of Spazi Enterprise, who runs a wholesale baking-ingredients business, ventured into the making of coconut jellies three years ago when customers requested for plain dessert puddings. At that time, many of the puddings available on the supermarket shelves were flavoured. Ever willing to please, Lee worked on his recipe formula for the perfect jelly powder mix for two years, going to as far as Penang and Sabah to perform personal taste and texture tests. Lee and his coconut jellies finally made their debut at the 2012 Food Fair at the Mid Valley Mega Mall where he landed supply contracts with several restaurant chains. Since then, he has participated in three other major food and beverage fairs at the Putra World Trade Center and under the Malaysian Tourism Board. Coming in packs of 180gm at RM4 each and served in a whole coconut for RM9 each, Lee uses only the pandan variety of coconuts bought from Felda plantations. “The origin of the pandan coconut is from Thailand but there are also local growers. I felt that it would be better to buy local in order to support the Buy Malaysia drive and to foster closer relationships with my suppliers,” explained Lee.


With a daily production capacity of 10,000 bowls of coconut jelly, deliveries usually see some 500 coconuts per order, but two years ago, when Lee was just starting out, he ordered close to some 8,000 fruits at one shot, half of which went towards his experiments!.  “It is not cost effective to buy the fruits in small quantities so I usually order them by the lorry-load. “There was a shortage then so I had to import them from Thailand and India, thus the large number,” recalled Lee, who fortunately, still made a profit from the leftover coconuts thanks to his background in wholesale baking ingredients. At present, Lee has two outlets in Pearl Point Shopping Center and Scott Garden Shopping Mall, manned by four employees. He is planning to approach dessert cafes to market his jelly powders and is eyeing export markets such as Japan, the Middle East and Europe. With its reputation of being the “tree of life”, even coconut shells have become items of value as home accessories.


Sharon Chai, 56, of Red Envelope, a home décor boutique at Ikano Power Center, has been selling coconut shell products for more than 10 years. She said despite the fact coconut shells are a readily available and a surplus commodity in Malaysia she has to export her coconut shell cutlery and crockery from Indonesia and the Philippines. “I have tried going to the east coast to source locally, but for the same polished bowl which I can get for as low as RM10 from the Philippines, I would have to pay RM20 to a local craftsman. “And there is the issue of quantity. Ideally, I would like order up to 20 pieces per design, but the local craftsman will only agree to do 10, citing production difficulties,” revealed Chai. But she remains confident there is a demand for coconut shell products. “Bowls, lids, spoons, plates, incense holders, even buckles are some of the items that can come out of coconut shells. “What we need now are dedicated crafts people to make this a reality. The appeal is in the natural look which is highly appreciated by tourists and even locals,” said Chai, who is confident of inspiring a revival. The original articls from webs. https://www.thestar.com.my/ news/community/ 2013/01/03/ cashing-in-on-coconuts/. Thanks for readings...

By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Coconut Experts at DoA,
Jorak Coconut Seedling Production Stationr,
Jorak, Ledang, Johor,
Malaysia.
(12 RabiulAwal 1439H)
Posted fro MAS Golden Lounge,
Kuching, Sarawak.






Sunday, December 3, 2017

PADDY PRODUCTION IN MALAYSIA - MY GAP

Food safety is a serious concern among the consumers of agricultural products. Toxicity risks are created by the acute presence of contaminating chemicals in foods. The usage of chemical inputs in paddy farms has not only caused health issues for farmers but it has also adversely affected the environment, killed animals, and polluted air and water. This creates controversial issues that need immediate attention, since sustainable agriculture needs to meet both consumers’ and farmers’ welfare in terms of food and farmers’ safety, respectively. This study looks at paddy farming practices and the creation of the Farmer Sustainability Index as a measurement to gauge whether farmers are practicing sustainable agriculture by following the Rice Check guideline that has been stipulated by the Department of Agriculture, Malaysia. The questionnaire was constructed to capture the 16 farming practices based on the Rice Check guideline and a score was given to each practice to see whether the guideline is being followed. The data from the questionnaire were analyzed and the Farmer Sustainability Index was calculated. The range of index is from 0 to 100, where 0 is not sustainable at all and 100 is highly sustainable. Eighty (80) paddy farmers from Sungai Petani, Kedah participated in the study and the result shows that 80% of the farmers practice quite unsustainable paddy farming with an average score of less than 40.0 on a scale of 0 -100. This article I adapt from a paper presented at Confrentech MARDI to share with you all.

People are becoming more concerned about their food intake and place greater emphasis on the safety of the food they consume. Thus, food safety has become an important issue among consumers and environmentalists. Chemical hazards, whether chronic or acute, in the food supply have been a major public concern among consumers. Although chemical inputs are an essential part of modern high-input agriculture, it is the toxicity of pesticide residues on and in food which gives rise to these concerns because they could contain certain carcinogenic potentials. The immediate problem faced by consumers is the lack of transparency in the chemical inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides applied in the production process and how many residues are making their way into agricultural products. Since the process of food production has little transparency at field level, it is difficult to keep track of chemical inputs used in terms of timing, frequency, and limits of usage. In the 80s, the issue of sustainability caught consumers’ attention in developed countries like the UK, where the need for farmers to exercise control over foodborne hazards has been emphasized to minimize the food safety crises arising at farm level [3]. The use of pesticides is higher for certain crops such as cotton, rice, vegetables, and fruits in general. Farmers’ use of pesticides is often too frequent and in higher doses than that which is recommended, leading to the presence of high amounts of residue in food commodities. In the 80s, pesticide residues such as Aldrin dieldrin, chlordane, Hexachloro- cyclohexane and others such as Dichlorodiphenyl -trichloroethane were found in fish samples in paddy-farming areas. This could be due to lack of accurate knowledge about pests and their control and hence often a cause for the overuse of chemical inputs and the usage of unauthorized inputs. Study in Malaysia [5] indicated that heavy metals were found in paddy fields derived from the heavy use of fertilizers and pesticides as agrochemicals which are known to contain zinc, copper, lead and cadmium. In the tropical paddy field ecosystem, the heavy use of chemicals such as pesticides has affected the ecosystem of other nontarget organisms such as microalgae and cyanobacteria [6]. In order to examine the degree of sustainability in production practices, various studies which have assessed the production practices at farm level were reviewed. For example, there is a study. Regarding the adaptation of sustainable production practices in paddy fields in Kuttaland, India which is one of the traditional paddy bowls of low-lying reclaimed land. The increase in the use of fertilizers and pesticides has caused epidemics and environmental degradation, thus leading to an attempt to introduce sustainable practices. The concept of sustainable agriculture should neither be consumer oriented nor producer oriented. Consumers are very particular about food safety and farmers also need to be concerned. This is because how farmers produce agricultural products will influence not only food safety but also the farmers’ health. Study in North Carolina and Iowa] alerted that agricultural workers and their families are exposed to pesticides, animal viruses, mycotoxins, dust, fuels, oils, engine exhaust, and fertilizers, which may contribute to cancer through immunologic perturbations and occupational exposure to a variety of potentially hazardous chemicals and biological agents.

There is a study which indicated that the usage of pesticide and inorganic fertilizers on paddy farms has caused health issues among farmers, destroyed paddy-fish culture, killed animals, and caused air and water pollution. In the Philippines, unsafe pesticide storage, handling, short re-entry and disposal practices subject farmers to high levels of health hazards and contaminate the paddy ecosystem. In the case of Malaysia, a study has found that paddy and vegetable cultivation are the main sources of environmental contamination by most organochlorine insecticides in the country. The farmers’ houses in Malaysia are usually located adjacent to the paddy fields and when the wind blows over the recently pesticide-sprayed paddy fields, it carries heavy pesticide mists. There are high rates of acute poisoning due to chlorpyrifos exposure among Malaysian paddy farmers. In Malaysia, the good agricultural practices standards began in 2002 with the introduction of the Farm Accreditation Scheme by the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry.

The Farm Accreditation Scheme is a program designed to accredit farms that adopt Malaysian Good Agriculture Practice (MyGAP). In order to become certified, the farm is required to operate in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way, and yield quality products that are safe according to the three main aspects of the MyGAP Farm Accreditation Scheme which is based on the European Good Agricultural Practices (EuroGAP). The evaluated aspects include the environmental setting of the farm, verification of farm practices and safety of farm products, incorporating traceability and ensuring adequate workers’ welfare within the farm (Department of Economics Malaysia, 2009). The consolidation of programs under MyGAP not only ensures Malaysian produce is benchmarked against international GAP certification schemes such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations  - Good Agricultural Practices (ASEAN GAP) and EuroGAP, but also the GLOBAL GAP (The GLOBAL GAP is the world standard for GAP). Thus, the application of MyGAP allows Malaysia’s agricultural produce to gain better recognition and acceptance both domestically and internationally. In June 2006, a total of 182 fruit and vegetable farms were accredited (from about 1,000 applicants) under the Farm Accreditation Scheme in Malaysia. In 2014, the number of farmers awarded with MyGAP certification increased to 746 out of 278,628 farmers. Since this number is still small and is about 0.3% of the total farmer population, effort needs to be made to encourage farmers to change their mindset and adopt sustainable agricultural practices.

That is, compliance with the international food safety standards and adoption of good agricultural practices requires farmers to invest in precise application of fertilizers such as with the use of the new forms of mechanization. As at 2012  it was observed that paddy farmers in the granary areas are faced with little incentive to invest in new mechanization methods which are necessary in adopting good agricultural practices such as the various precision rice farming methods of input application [15]. Thus, the general objective of this study is to identify the distribution of paddy farmers at different sustainability levels based on their farming practices at the field level in the sub-granary areas of Sungai Petani district, Kedah. The specific objective for this study is to estimate the Farmer Sustainable Index as the level of sustainability in paddy farming practice. A personal interview was conducted among the selected paddy farmers. There were 80 paddy farmers in the sub-granary areas of Sungai Petani district, Kedah who participated in the interviews. This study takes in the potential and possible strategies to promote sustainable agricultural practices among paddy farmers in the area.

Arranged by,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Room 220, Hotel Leverage,
Alor Setar, Kedah,
Malaysia.
(2 October 2017)

Saturday, November 18, 2017

GROW CHILI PEPPERS IN CONTAINER

HOW to grow Chili Peppers Plants In A Container ?. For me its was an easy jobs to do especially when you have time and knowhow.  To grow y chili peppers need to hold a special place in many gardens. These vibrant and delicious vegetables are fun to grow and can also be decorative. Just because you don’t have a garden to grow peppers doesn’t mean that you can’t grow them. Growing peppers in planters is easy. Plus, when you grow peppers in pots, they can double as decorative plants on your patio or balcony. Growing Peppers in Containers Container garden peppers need two important things: water and light. These two things will determine where you will grow pepper plants in a container. First, your peppers will need five or more hours of direct sunlight. The more light they can get, the better they will grow. Second, your pepper plant is entirely dependent on you for water, so make sure that your container growing pepper plant is located somewhere that you will be able to easily get water to it on a daily basis. When planting your pepper plant into the container, use organic, rich potting soil; don’t use regular garden soil. Regular garden soil can compact and harm the roots while potting soil will stay aerated, giving the roots room to grow well. As mentioned, a pepper plant will need to get nearly all of its water from you. Because the roots of a pepper plant cannot spread out into the soil to look for water (like they would if they were in the ground), it needs to be watered frequently.

You can expect to water your pepper plant in a container at least once a day when the temperature is above 65 F. (18C.) and twice a day when the temperatures rise above 80 F. (27 C.) Pepper plants are self-pollinating, so they don’t technically need pollinators to help them set fruit, but pollinators can help the plant set more fruit than it normally would. If you’re growing peppers in planters in a location that could be difficult for bees and other pollinators to get to, like a high balcony or an enclosed porch, you may want to try hand pollinating your pepper plants. This can be done one of two ways. First, you can give each pepper plant a gentle shake a few times a day while it is in bloom. This helps the pollen distribute itself to the plant. The other is to use a small paint brush and swirl it inside each open blossom. Container garden peppers can be fertilized with compost tea or a slow release fertilizer once a month. Growing peppers in containers can be fun and makes these tasty vegetables available to many gardeners who don’t have a traditional, in-the-ground garden. Have a nice day today!!

By,
M Anem,
Senior Aronomist,
Serdang Agriculture Station,
Serdang, Selangor,
Malaysia.
(20 Oct 2017

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

HAVE FOOD, HAVE POWER (Part 2)

"HAVE FOOD, HAVE POWER" it is clear when he starts talking about the subject that it is a topic close to the heart of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. Without a doubt, “food sovereignty” is not just a buzzword for the 57-year-old politician who has been overseeing the country’s agricultural affairs for over a year now. Even after a long, hot, afternoon ploughing through the new maize (corn) farm in Kampung Dadong, near Kemaman, Terengganu, Ahmad Shabery is indefatigable as he shares his aspiration to make the country self-sustainable in its agro-food production, and more. Food sovereignty, or the rights of a nation to produce its own food and not depend on imported food supplies to feed its population, is an important policy for Malaysia to adopt, he stresses. “Our country is currently importing more food than it is producing and exporting, which puts us at the mercy of foreign countries,” he says, referring to Malaysia’s food import bill last year, which was reported at RM45.39bil. Our food export amounted to only RM27bil, leaving us with a deficit of over RM18bil. It is a heavy economic burden, and that is why the Government has been aiming at self-sufficiency for some time, he adds. Once we achieve self-sustainability in our food production, it could eventually lead to food sovereignty.

3. You also mentioned food sovereignty. What is the difference between food sovereignty and food security?Food sovereignty is one step higher than food security. Take Singapore as example, it might have food security because its food supply is adequate due to trade agreements with food producing countries ... But in the case of war, trade sanctions and geopolitical instability affecting global prices or preventing the delivery, then their food security will be affected. In these cases, the measure of strength of a country is not how much weaponry it has but how much food we have and our ability to produce our own food. That is our food sovereignty. That is why I believe that if we don’t have a policy in relation to our livestock and grain, even though we are currently producing enough food for the country’s needs – around 80% – we will be exposed to elements that can threaten our political stability. People who have not eaten for five days will go on a rampage. We don’t need outside forces to attack us. That is the benchmark. Previously, there were countries that relied on imports for food like Venezuela, but look at what’s happening there now. When the oil prices were high, they had enough income so they did not think it was necessary to grow their own food, but the minute their oil price fell, so did their currency. Now they are facing 1000% inflation, Venezuela is now constantly on the brink of unrest. We are quite lucky to have enough rice, but still it is not enough.

4. What if our farmers decide to stop planting food crops like rice and go into cash crops like grain corn?
That’s why we have a lot of incentives and subsidies for rice farmers to reduce their farming costs and help them earn more income, because we understand that other crops might be more profitable – farmers in Kedah have complained that they are forced to grow rice when others are allowed to plant palm oil which is more profitable, for example. But with grain corn, rice farmers can plant it as a second crop, after they harvest their rice, to enhance their soil and increase their income. Crop rotation is good for the soil. Anyway, they can’t focus only on the corn because in Terengganu at least, we have the wet season which is not suitable for corn. During the monsoon, they will need to plant paddy. Many usually just wait more than six months after they harvest their rice for the next cycle.

5. Does the ministry have a module for the farmers?
We are in partnership with Green World Genetics Sdn Bhd (GWG) where the company is “training” the farmers to plant corn in their paddy fields and supplying the seeds. GWG is a leading company in the development of the country’s seed industry under the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA). The profits are divided 70:30 between the farmers and GWG. The company also offers a buy-back guarantee of the corn grain produced by the farmers in the pilot project.


6. What other agricultural sectors or products is the ministry looking at for the country’s food sovereignty?
We are also looking at dairy farming and livestock (for meat).
We are already self-sufficient in some foods, such as rice, where we produce about 70% of the population’s needs. It is the same with chicken and fish, but where meat and milk are concerned, we can only afford to produce 20% of the population’s needs so far. Again, animal feed is an issue. For dairy farming, for instance, we need hectares of grass fields for their food while the infrastructure for processing the milk is complex. That means we need to streamline the farms, we cannot do it in patches. We need an economy of scale for efficiency in logistics and supply chain including the processing and transportation. If we don’t address that, it will push the price of the products up. It is crucial for dairy farming because we need to keep the products, like milk, fresh.

 Original info from local newspaper and published.

Rearranged by,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Kg Dadong, Kemaman,
Terengganu, Malaysia.
(Attended the official grain corn planting by Minister)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

CHILI - THE ORIGIN

The origin of chilies is believed to be as old as 7000 B.C. used in Mexico. Chilies were grown and cultivated from 3500 BC. Mexicans used it to spice up their food. Chili was brought to the rest of the world by Christopher Columbus who discovered America in 1493. Christopher had set from Spain to reach India to bring spices such as pepper back to his country. Christopher not only mistook America for India, but also mistook chili as the black pepper. That is how the chili got the name ‘chile pepper.’ He took chile pepper back to Spain where it became a very famous spice. Chili spread to rest of the European countries. Chili became the indispensable spice in European cuisines. Chili became popular in Portuguese. In 1498, the Portuguese explorer Vasco-da-Gama reached Indian shores bringing with him the pungent spice. Chili seeds were brought to North America for cultivation. In 1888, experiments began for cross breeding of chili plants. New breeds of chili plants were evolved. In 1906, a new variety of chili, Anaheim, was grown. Soon, more chili varieties were evolved such as strong breed of Mexican chile.

In 1912, Wilbur L. Scoville, a pharmacist found a new method to measure the pungency of the chili. This new method came to be known as Scoville Organoleptic Test. Unlike, earlier methods, the Scoville test was subjective and accurate.  There are more than 400 different varieties of chilies found all over the world. The world’s hottest chili “Naga Jolokia” is cultivated in hilly terrain of Assam in a small town Tezpur, India. Chili became extremely popular in India after it was first brought to India by Vasco-da-Gama. Chili found its way in ayurveda, the traditional Indian medical system. According to ayurveda, chili has many medicinal properties such as stimulating good digestion and endorphins, a natural pain killer to relieve pains.

Today, it is unimaginable to think of India cuisine without the hot spice, chili. India has become world’s largest producer and exporter of chili, exporting to USA, Canada, UK, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Malaysia, Germany and many countries across the world. It contributes 25% of world’s total production of chili. Some of the hottest chilies are grown in India. Indian chilies have been dominating international chili market. Majority of chili grown in India is cultivated in states such as Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Orissa.

Thanks.


By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Jalan Istana, Bandar Melaka,
Melaka, Malaysia.
(18 October 2017)


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

HAVE FOOD, HAVE POWER (Part 3)

"HAVE FOOD, HAVE POWER" it is clear when he starts talking about the subject that it is a topic close to the heart of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek. Without a doubt, “food sovereignty” is not just a buzzword for the 57-year-old politician who has been overseeing the country’s agricultural affairs for over a year now. Even after a long, hot, afternoon ploughing through the new maize (corn) farm in Kampung Dadong, near Kemaman, Terengganu, Ahmad Shabery is indefatigable as he shares his aspiration to make the country self-sustainable in its agro-food production, and more. Food sovereignty, or the rights of a nation to produce its own food and not depend on imported food supplies to feed its population, is an important policy for Malaysia to adopt, he stresses. “Our country is currently importing more food than it is producing and exporting, which puts us at the mercy of foreign countries,” he says, referring to Malaysia’s food import bill last year, which was reported at RM45.39bil. Our food export amounted to only RM27bil, leaving us with a deficit of over RM18bil. It is a heavy economic burden, and that is why the Government has been aiming at self-sufficiency for some time, he adds. Once we achieve self-sustainability in our food production, it could eventually lead to food sovereignty.


7. To expand our agricultural activities and increase our agro-food production so that we can attain food sovereignty, we need to encourage more young people to go into the field. How can we do that?
We have to prove that agriculture can guarantee a good life. True, some people say they are going into agriculture because of their love of farming or nature, and they say they don’t care about the money. In the long run, however, it will not be sustainable. We need to break the old myth that farmers are poor, that there is no money in farming, and they need aid. The minute you can prove that one can have economic stability and prosperity through agriculture, you can draw young people into the field. We also need to build up “Agriculture icons” and develop “cool farmers” who are modern, adept at technology et cetera. I think more and more people are losing interest in or getting fed up of office work. They don’t want to dress formally or wear suits and be tied to their desks every day. I think many young people now aspire to work out in the open and be close to nature and dress casually in jeans and t-shirt. We need to build these images and types of personalities to change the old perception on agriculture.


8. We already have a National Agro-Food Policy 2010-2020, so how does this and food sovereignty factor into it?
Livestock is not mentioned in our National Agro-Food Policy for some reason. I’m not sure why. And while we have highlighted food security in that policy, it is not enough. We have to do more. Food sovereignty means you are more than secure, you are supreme - you have power and strength as a food producer and can penetrate other markets in the world. In some agricultural countries like Denmark, for example, they don’t talk about producing 100% or 200% of their food needs, they are actually looking at producing 700% of their needs, so that they can conquer the world markets with their food products. It’s the same in countries like Norway and Switzerland, among others. They are small countries but they are producing more food that they need because they are looking at food as a tool for supremacy and diplomacy. Even in the US, the second prominent state building in Washington is the Department of Agriculture, underlining the importance of the agro-food sector. In the US’ DoA, for example, they have about 1000 economists and other experts who understand climate change, genes, seeds - all looking at how to develop policies that will make their country stronger. We can say that we are secure now, but if there is war, we might lose our sovereignty.

Original info from local newspaper and published.

Rearranged by,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,
Kg Dadong,
Kemaman,
Terengganu,
Malaysia.
(Attended the official grain corn planting by Minister)

Monday, October 9, 2017

PINNING FOR THE DAYS OF PINEAPPLE

PINEAPPLE (Ananas comosus) are lergely grown ini Malaysia for many years as an important for estate and smallholders. There are about 14,500 hectares of pineapple grown in Malaysia in 2016 producing a revenur for RM515 million. To talk about that the highways now zig-zag across the state, there were once pineapples. Johor was once a place thriving with pineapple plantations. What’s more, Malaysia was once the world’s top pineapple producer, but has since lost out to Thailand in recent years, says Lee San Yee. He should know. He is the factory manager of Lee Pineapple Company, an 85-year-old pineapple processing company and pioneer of Malaysia’s pineapple industry, which survived the difficult days of the Japanese occupation and is still standing tall today. “Many of the pineapple factories and canneries here have closed down due to increased competition from Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia which have surpassed Malaysia in pineapple production,” he said. Malaysia is now ranked as the seventh largest producer in the world. He said that during the company’s zenith, its factory could harvest about 400,000 pineapples per day in 2000. But the yield has decreased to about 100,000 fruits per day now.

The plantation’s overall size also went down from the initial 4,046.8ha to some 2,428.1ha, bringing down production by 50% in the past seven years. The company exports its pineapples to Japan, the United States, the Middle East and European countries. The company, which specialises in the growth, canning and exporting of the fruit, was founded in 1931 in Singapore, which was part of Malaya then, before it moved to Johor in 1938. During the war, Japanese troops bombed a bridge behind the factory at 8 ½ Mile Jalan Skudai in Skudai. Lee said the bombing damaged a large part of the factory. But the owners and some 600 employees had to soldier on to keep themselves and the business alive. Although Lee was not born then, he recalls the stories told by the retired workers. “The Japanese soldiers forced us to continue production to supply the fruits to their troops, who enjoyed eating the pineapples. We were not allowed to sell our products to others. “Our retired employees related their experience of being frightened at the sight of the armed soldiers who were constantly moving about in and around the factory. “Luckily the company managed to see the Japanese flee from the country before we achieved independence,” he said when met here.

The factory, which still has the original vintage façade and yellow signage from when it was established then, has since been repaired. It processes pineapples from its Simpang Renggam plantation and 80% of the products are exported. The company exports pineapple juice, syrup and canned fruits to Japan, the United States, the Middle East and European countries. Lee, who has been with the company for the past 46 years and is not related to the owners, added that as time passed, many pineapple factories in Johor could not withstand against the competitive economy. “There is a huge demand, but we just cannot meet it due to the lack of plantation workers to harvest the fruits. “The labour shortage is a big issue for us because Malaysians simply do not want to work in this labour-intensive sector,” he said, adding that this was one of the company’s toughest periods in its history. The company has about 500 plantation workers, with 90% of them foreigners. But it needs about 1,000 workers to fully achieve its full potential, Lee said. “Workers have to stand the heat and because pineapple trees are short, there is no shade from the hot sun and they have to constantly bend over to harvest the fruits manually,” he said of the harvesting work. Lee said the company hopes to sustain its production for many more years to come. It’s because it has become one of the country’s household brands remembered by many Malaysians.

Lee showing the tins of canned pineapples grown
and produced by the 85-year-old brand.

By,
M Anem,
Senior Agronomist,

Pekan Nanas, Pontian,
Johor, Malaysia.
(Adapted from The Star Online)