Sunday, December 11, 2011

Go downstream to increase yield, farmers told

KUALA LUMPUR: Farmers should look at other avenues such as “downstream processing” to increase their economic potential, said Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong.

He urged farmers to go beyond planting fruits like durians and produce other food products like durian springrolls and mooncake to enable the agriculture industry to grow.

Downstream processing was important, he said, to increase the growth of the industry which had huge potential in expanding but faced increasing challenges.

“Farmers face many obstacles in growing fruits such as shortage of land, natural disasters and climate change. So, they need to look at other ways to increase their productivity, decrease the impact of diseases and increase downstream processing,” he said after launching the first Agriculture and Fruit Downstream Processing Seminar at Putra World Trade Centre yesterday.

Chua said China would send representatives this month to visit five companies which are interested in investing in cold processing rooms to process durians into frozen durian flesh for export.

“They want to see if the facilities fulfil the criteria set by China,” he said.

Chua also urged farmers to join an association, whether at state or federal level, to prepare a platform for the ministry to disseminate information and help resolve any problems they faced.

“Most farmers are fragmented. Sometimes, the ministry faces many problems when it wants to have a dialogue with them or brief them on new information,” he said.

He added that many were not clear of the 3P policy when it was first introduced.

The 3P stands for Pengredan (grading), Pembungkusan (packaging) and Pelabelan (labelling) and allows the ministry to “trace and track” the greens in the market and to withdraw any contaminated products immediately.

Chua said the ministry managed to resolve a bulk of the problems but would continue to monitor the progress as the farmers needed time to implement the policy.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Fruit Farmers Association president Hong Jok Hon welcomed the minister’s statement urging more farmers to join an association.

He also urged the Government and Fama to build more factories to process the surge of fruits into juice, especially during peak season, to avoid wastage and to increase their revenue.

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