3rd August, 2009
SIPITANG: The Sabah Land Development Board [SLDB] has suggested that Sipitang be made the nucleus for the fledgling pineapple industry in Sabah because of the suitable soils found there as well as in the surrounding districts.
And with assistance from the Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board forthcoming soon, SLDB is hopeful that Sabah can become a net exporter of the succulent fruit, with Japan, Korea and the Middle East as its target markets.
SLDB General Manager Jhuvarri Majid said Sunday that trials would be carried out at its Agro Park in Ulu Bongawan to source the best variety and to produce sufficient hybrid seeds to enable smallholders to get sufficient plants.
He told this to reporters after Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman visited the SLDB expo booth here yesterday in conjunction with the Sipitang Gasing & Tamu Besar Festival (GATA) 2009 closing ceremony.
The pilot pineapple project in Sipitang will involve 50 acres of land in Banting, said Jhuvarri. SLDB eventually hopes to develop at least a 2,000-acre pineapple farm in the district with people from the district engaged to work in this venture.
Recently, the MPIB disclosed that it wanted to develop some 15,000 hectares of land to plant pineapples in Sabah and have pledged financial assistance, technical know-how and marketing expertise to the SLDB to help Sabahans seriously venture into this sector.
All the MPIB needs now is to extend the Pineapple Industry Act to Sabah so that it can spread its wings to East Malaysia to carry out its various programmes, which includes planting and fertiliser subsidies.
While the overseas markets opt for fresh fruits, the MPIB has come up with 10 products which include juices, canned cubes, pineapple-flavoured tea and coffee, jam and fritters as downstream products for odd-sized fruits.
Smallholders and cooperatives reap rewards in pineapple cultivation as a 10-acre farm can earn the farmer a monthly RM5,000 income after the first crop is harvested.
Pineapples should be planted where the temperature remains warmest. The best soil for the pineapple is a friable, well-drained sandy loam with high organic content. The pH should be within a range of 4.5 to 6.5.
Soils that are not sufficiently acidic can be treated with sulphur to achieve the desired level. The plant cannot stand waterlogging but is surprisingly drought tolerant.
Meanwhile, Jhuvarri said SLDB had major plans for agriculture development in Sipitang with the focus on paddy with some 1750 acres of land available in Tunggul Tinggi Kawang-Kawang Sindumin and Long Pa Sia.
The highlands, especially in and around Long Pasia have also been found to be suitable for planting temperate vegetables and some 500 acres would be earmarked for such activity.
Long Pasia would also have a 100-acre coffee project with the Catimore variety being planted. Another 50 acres would be allocated for planting spices such as cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon.
SLDB, added Jhuvarri, would open up a palm oil mill at Sindumin on a joint-venture basis with the District Council as well as a commercial estate of 650 acres at Katipoh, Mesapol complete with a 50-acre oil palm nursery for high quality seed production.
Another 5,000-acre plotted project for settlers is earmarked for Mandulung.
And Long Miau will have an Agro Park which is part of the Agro Tourism project that SLDB has planned.
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