KUANTAN, June 3 — The participation of more young farmers in cultivating chilies using the fertigation method can help reduce the country’s dependence on imported chili products, said Deputy Agriculture and Food Industry Minister I, Datuk Seri Ahmad Hamzah.
He said the self-sufficiency level (SSL) of chilli stood at about 38 per cent so far and to increase the percentage, the ministry is ready to provide support and encouragement to youths interested in cultivating the crop.
“We have established the Young Agropreneur Programme aimed at encouraging the involvement of youths keen on entrepreneurial activities in the agricultural sector by providing guidance, advice, and monitoring their progress so they can really be successful.
“The agricultural sector can be a lucrative source of income, but most importantly, we want to make sure we have sufficient food supply in the country,” he told reporters after visiting the chilli fertigation project at Felda Panching here, today.
Also present was Deputy Finance Minister II Mohd Shahar Abdullah, who is also the Paya Besar Member of Parliament.
Based on the 2018 Agriculture Department statistics, the domestic demand for chillies was 55,420 tonnes a year compared to domestic production which was only at 24,428 tonnes per year.
A total of 3,863 tonnes of chillies are exported, resulting in the demand for external supply at 34,855 tonnes a year.
Citing an example of the chilli fertigation project at Felda Panching, Ahmad said the project was undertaken on a 1.7-hectare land by four-Felda born farmers set a good example as the project has produced about 20 tonnes since its inception in May last year.
In another development, Ahmad said his ministry was willing to help farmers who were unable to market their products, resulting in dumping following the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) by marketing at the Controlled Fresh Markets.
“Prior to this, we have upgraded Pasar Tani and selected permanent markets to become Controlled Fresh Markets at several locations nationwide and has been well received as it enables the public to get fresh produce besides helping farmers to market their products,” he added. — Bernama