PADANG BESAR (Oct 16): The government wants to expand the kenaf industry and produce more of its end products to increase the country’s exports based on the commodity.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said currently, the value of the country’s kenaf exports stood at RM10 million and the amount could be increased if kenaf cultivators were able to produce more downstream products other than fibre.
“Across the country, there are about 2,000 hectares of kenaf farms, including those run by smallholders, and the production of downstream industrial products (end products), including fibre for local usage, is still low,” she told reporters after visiting a 200-hectare kenaf plantation in the Chuping Valley Industrial Area (CVIA) here on Saturday.
Zuraida said anyone with at least one hectare of land is eligible to apply for assistance for kenaf cultivation from the National Kenaf and Tobacco Board (LKTN).
Therefore, she said the government encourages the people to venture into kenaf cultivation as it is easy to grow and takes only four months to harvest.
She said the weather and soil factors in the northern region were very suitable for kenaf cultivation and due to that, the farms located in CVIA and some areas in northern Kedah focused on the production of kenaf seeds only.
“If kenaf farms can be expanded with the involvement of more kenaf entrepreneurs on a small scale, it may be conducive to produce more end products while increasing the income of the people and the country,” she said.
Zuraida said said the state government is also advised to increase the land lease period for kenaf planters so that plantation operators such as those in CVIA could make long-term plans in diversifying their products.
She said the ministry, through LKTN, would continue to ensure that various programmes and initiatives related to the development of the kenaf industry would be enhanced and improved.
“This is important for the industry to remain competitive and sustainable, as well as generate income and benefit the people and the country,” she said.
Among the various kenaf downstream industries include the production of industrial building systems (IBS), pulp for environmentally-friendly packaging, biocomposites and animal feed.