The Sun Daily: Selangor encourages fruit and vegetable cultivation, livestock and fish farming through aid initiative

SHAH ALAM: Selangor is aggressively promoting agropreneurship as part of the national agenda to ensure food security is not compromised. Towards that objective, it is encouraging entrepreneurs who are cultivating fruits and vegetables or farming livestock and fish by providing assistance to expand their operations.

Saudagar Nanas owner Mohd Noorhardy Mohd Noorzain said he turned to planting pineapples after his previous ventures failed.

He began planting on his father-in-law’s 1.21ha plot after obtaining seedlings under a farmers’ scheme managed by the Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board.

Noorhardy aspires to turn his pineapple farm into an agrotourism attraction with leisure activities, and create awareness to educate people about the varieties of pineapples that are available in the country.

He prepared a proposal for the Selangor Religious Council to expand his business, and has received 7.3ha in Kampung Sungai Merab Luar in Sepang, Selangor.

To date, he has planted 15 varieties of pineapples on his farm, which is open to the public to visit, and dine at a cafe that serves a pineapple-based menu consisting of nasi lemak, curry puff, sambal, ice cream and fried pineapple.

Noorhardy, a human resource graduate from Universiti Putra Malaysia, said coming from different backgrounds allows him to think differently, especially in terms of planning and marketing.

“I need to ensure that we have enough pineapple supply each week. So, I apply a staggered strategy to plant it so we can harvest the fruit every week,” he said.

Ilani Hana Masturah Mohd Hilmi and her sister, Aliyaa Suraiya, are architects by profession. But they decided to pursue agriculture when they discovered the benefits of figs and saw a demand for fresh fruit in Malaysia.

Their 0.8ha fig farm, Mutiara Figs, is located in Shah Alam. They grow more than 300 types of figs, which are indigenous to Mediterranean countries such as Italy, Turkey and Egypt. While it can be cultivated in warmer climates, the humidity can present some challenges.

“It is a challenge to grow figs here because the high humidity promotes the growth of fungus, which can kill the saplings. And when the rainy season comes and floods occur, we have to figure out the best way to keep the plants dry,” Ilani said.

The family business is still recovering from last year’s floods, and gearing up to brace themselves for the upcoming flood alert by shading the saplings to protect them from rainwater.

Aliyaa said Mutiara Figs has been supplying fresh figs to four-star and five-star hotel chains such as W Kuala Lumpur, Four Seasons and the Datai Langkawi, to make desserts.

She said the company is also processing the fruit into relish, jam sambal and desserts such as fig tartlets and cakes, as well as marketing fig tea made from the leaves.

“Fresh figs have a short shelf life of three to four days, and we noticed during the movement control order that people wanted to gift it to their friends and family who live far away.

“So, we figured that we should turn the harvested fruits into other products too,” she said.

Mutiara Figs received a RM500,000 grant under the Teraju Superb Programme as its efforts to cultivate figs are considered an innovative project.

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