TENOM: The State Government, through Rural Development Corporation (KPD), is in the process of planning several programmes that can make it easy for interested Sabahans to get involved in pomelo cultivation, said State Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Junz Wong. This is in line with the Sabah Agriculture Blueprint 2021-2030, he said. Wong said the State Government will also replicate successful models and act as facilitator to connect different entities together to form a sustainable ecosystem in the agriculture sector.
For example, he said, planters need fertilisers and suppliers need planters to consume fertilisers. “So planters and fertiliser producers will be connected. Or, downstream players producing juices need raw materials and planters need a market to consume the produces. So downstream players making juices and planters will be connected.“By doing so, planters need not worry about selling because the market is ready, fertiliser suppliers do not need to worry about lack of consumption as ready planters are available, downstream players need not worry about lack of raw materials as the planters will have them ready.“This ecosystem is essential to ensure the sustainability of all involved parties, and this is what lies at the heart of the Agriculture Blueprint,” he said.On pomelo, Wong said he was told that an acre of about 55 pomelo trees can fetch up to eight tonnes of pomelo a year, which is worth about RM20,000 at RM2.50 per kg, meaning that five acres of pomelo is able to draw roughly RM100,000 a year.
During the visit to the district, Wong also stopped at Padas Farmstay which was developed and operated by the Tham brothers along the Kemabong-Tenom road. Apart from offering a unique farmstay experience to tourists, the Tham brothers have been producing homemade Asam Boi downstream products which include lime juice, essential oil, enzymes and so on from their four-five acres.Wong said this initiative by the Tham brothers has been ongoing for six to seven years and it has also benefited retirees and locals who plant their own lime trees and sell the fruits to the Tham brothers.“At a current rate of approximately a hundred bottles a day, the Tham brothers are using traditional methods to produce the products. Reception is gaining momentum at both the local and foreign market, so the Tham brothers are looking to expand production, he said.Wong said the State Government cherishes agropreneurs like the Tham brothers who bring value to the Sabah economy. “So I have given them my commitment to assist my level best through grants, loans etc by institutions such as Sabah Credit Corporation, Agro Bank and so on,” he said. Also present are Datuk Yap Yun Fook and KPD General Manager, Jamilah Lee, among others.