Kedah is a state in northern Malaysia and is well known for its agriculture industry, especially in paddy planting. In Malaysia, according to 2016 statistics, about 700,000 hectare land is provided for paddy planting and average annual growth is projected at 0.03 percent. Compared to other south east Asian countries, Malaysia is positioned as the net rice importer and least rice production compared to Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Malaysia imported 33 percent of their rice from Thailand, Vietnam and Pakistan while producing 67 percent of them locally, primarily in Kedah, Northern Perak and Selangor.
On average, a person in Malaysia consumes about 80kg of rice annually. This figures amounted to 2.7m MT of rice consumed in year 2016. Not only that, it also formed about 26 percent of the total caloric intake needed per person per day. This means that one household has to spend on average RM44 per month, totaling RM528 annually needed for rice consumption.
In Kedah, the paddy planting scene is not looking encouraging as the state government is trying to strike a balance between agricultural land and land for development. There seems to be growing demand for housing development but state government would also want to expand agricultural area to fit the food demand and other agricultural produce.
In reality, there are many abandoned land in the outskirt areas of Kedah. Many of the land owners, mostly village folks admitted to having no funding and resources for them to work on the land. Moreover, they do not have any support or network for them to sell their crops to. This is the main reason why most of the land is left unattended and grown with bushes.
Besides, production cost in growing paddy is very expensive without subsidies. For one hectare per season, production cost stands at RM3,766 where land rental and machinery contributed to over 70 percent of the cost. High production cost causes paddy planting to be less sustainable in the long run as farmers are unable to function independently without subsidies and assistance. This results in very low net profit as well.
Adding poor management and lack of knowledge in farming from the farmers, the success rate is low. Farmers do not have adequate and updated information when it comes to planting paddy. They do not have access to latest paddy varieties, have poor farm management practices that resulted in low or zero success rate in crops production.
Adding salt to injuries is that farmers’ interests are often surpassed by other industry stakeholders as the agricultural industry is more prone to protect larger stakeholders such as major corporations, consumers, and middleman. Farmers lose out as they are separated from the supply chain. This matter causes more than just interest as data transparency, trusts and reliability is also greatly affected, leading to delays in national policies and responses that could have made positive difference in the industry.
The Paradigm Shift
Therefore, the time has come for a change, a tremendous change that will wow other states. This new shift is the talk of the town, and that is MD2 pineapple. One company that has started the planting of MD2 pineapple in Kedah is DSTE Capital Limited. Although new, DSTE Capital Limited attempts to bring together abandoned land in Kedah, merging them to start planting pineapple of MD2 variety. DSTE Capital Limited has already begun planting 100 acres of MD2 pineapple in Padang Lembu in Kedah and aims to complete 1,000 acres of land planting MD2 pineapple across various farms in Malaysia.
As mentioned earlier, land owners in the outskirt areas in Kedah lacks of resources to manage or run the farm, but with planting of MD2 pineapple, things are starting to look positive. The farmers could start small. One MD2 pineapple seed is able to grow 4 pineapple seeds after upon ripping. On 1 acre land, it can grow up to 20,000 MD2 pineapples. After the pineapples ripe, farmers would have 80,000 additional seeds to grow in their farm or even sell it to the government or other farmers who intend to grow. Planting MD2 pineapple is a very sustainable farming compared to paddy as it quadraplexes the amount of seed to be grown elsewhere.
In addition to that, planting MD2 pineapple is easier for farmers as it does not require much resources. One positive note about planting MD2 pineapple is that it needs no artificial water irrigation system. MD2 pineapple grows naturally with sunlight and water resources. This alone has saved a lot of costs. Hence, MD2 pineapple resulted in positive yields with very minimum production costs.
One MD2 pineapple sells for around RM7 and one hectare land could generate about 8,100 MD2 pineapple plant. The revenue per hectare land is RM56,700 and is at least 10 times higher than the net profit for planting rice.
More to that, the demand for MD2 pineapple is escalating at a very rapid speed. Instead of becoming net importer for rice, why not become exporter and supplier for MD2 pineapple that fulfils the need for other countries?
The proposal to shift the direction from planting rice at the abandoned land in Kedah into planting MD2 pineapple is worthy to be seriously considered. By planting MD2 pineapple in collaboration with private sector such as DSTE Capital Limited, the state government could reduce the problems faced by small farmers and expands the growth of MD2 pineapple at a faster pace that leads Kedah to the road of becoming largest MD2 pineapple farms in Malaysia.