Johor plans to use government-owned or private wastelands for agriculture

SEGAMAT, March 4: The Johor government plans to take advantage of government-owned or private wastelands in the state so that they can be used for agricultural purposes, thereby increasing agricultural yields.

State Agriculture, Agro-based Industry and Rural Development Committee chairman Datuk Zahari Sarip said as a start to the effort, his ministry would cooperate with the Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (LPNM), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Johor branch and Persatuan Pengusaha Nanas Negeri Johor (PPNNJ).

He said with this collaboration, PPNNJ members will be able to use 20 acres (8.09 hectares) of land, owned by UiTM in Segamat, to plant the MD2 variety of pineapples, while LPNM will provide basic assistance and guidance to the programme participants.

“If the pilot project succeeds in producing good yields, we will continue with this effort by trying to get permission from the owners of other abandoned land such as in higher education institutes, schools, police training centres, military camps and so on,” he told reporters after a working visit to the Segamat district pineapple plant development project at UiTM Johor’s Segamat campus here today.

“In Segamat, we have about 200 acres of abandoned government-owned land that cannot be developed or cultivated because of the risk of flooding, but studies are being carried out for the project (to grow suitable crops).” 

Also present during the visit was LPNM chairman Sheikh ‘Umar Bagharib Ali and UiTM Johor rector Prof Madya Dr Saunah Zainon.

According to Zahari, the programme will be implemented through the Department of Agriculture, Department of Fisheries and Veterinary Department, and it will also involve the B40 group as participants to help them increase their income.

Meanwhile, regarding the results related to the pineapple plant, Sheikh ‘Umar said LPNM is now working to maximise the output of products from the plant other than food.

He said the latest research shows that the pineapple plant in this country, with three harvests, can be used for its fruit, tendrils or seeds, and plant waste.

“We at LPNM are now active in producing products from pineapples, especially those involving plant waste, and among the products successfully produced are health-related items, cosmetics, yarn, cloth, paper and souvenir items.

“At the same time, we also encourage these pineapple growers to plan planting their crops so that they can be harvested every month, considering that these pineapple plants need up to 14 months before they can be harvested,” he added.