Coconut farmers in Limbang set to benefit from ‘Matag’ scheme

Dr Abdul Rahman (left) gives away a coconut seedling to one of the participants.

MIRI: Limbang Division is gearing itself to become one of the major food producing centres in Sarawak, in line with the state’s goal of becoming a key net exporter of agriculture products by 2030.

Towards this end, the Department of Agriculture is running the ‘Matag Coconut Scheme’ involving 125 farmers from across the division.

Under this programme, the department has distributed 4,500 seedlings of the ‘Matag’ coconut – a hybrid deriving from the ‘Tagnanan’ coconut from the Philippines as the ‘male parent’, and the ‘Malaysian Yellow / Red Dwarf’ coconut as the ‘female parent’.

According to Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, every year only about 10,000 high-quality coconut seedlings are produced in Sarawak.

“Limbang Division is fortunate to be selected as the first in Sarawak to receive the seedlings of the hybrid coconut, ‘Matag’.

“Compared with other normal coconut varieties, the tree of the ‘matag’ coconut is lower in height.

“The annual yield can reach 40,000 coconuts per hectare – more than the normal coconut or other hybrid varieties,” said the Assistant Minister of Agriculture Native Land and Regional Development prior to the presentation of the seedlings at the Kubong Agriculture Training Centre (ATC) in Limbang on Saturday.

Dr Abdul Rahman (front, seventh right) joins officers from Limbang Agriculture Department in a group photo with the participants of the Matag Coconut Scheme.

Earlier, the department held a course for 50 participants of the scheme, where they learned more about the proper methods of planting ‘matag’ coconut.

Meanwhile, Dr Abdul Rahman said the 24-acre Kubong Agriculture Station would be developed as a Food Production Permanent Park (FPPP) with emphasis on the fertigation farming for the J36 jackfruit and rock melon.

In this regard, he said the Agriculture Department had identified six participants who would develop the J36 jackfruit, and eight would cultivate rock melon via fertigation.

“These initiatives are part of the state government’s efforts to make Sarawak a net exporter of agriculture produce by 2030,” he said, adding that for the past 11 years, the Sarawak government had been planning various agricultural development programmes slated for achieving this aspiration.

Dr Abdul Rahman, who is Bukit Kota assemblyman, said for Limbang Division alone, the Sarawak government had allocated RM23 million this year for the development of its agriculture sector – last year, the allocation was RM7 million.

Additionally, he said a RM5-million collection, processing and packaging centre would be set up at the Kubong Agriculture Station, where it would buy large-quantity products from the local farmers, adding that Musang King durian, pineapple and rambutan would be the priority products.

“In this respect, I call upon the Agriculture Department staff to continuously enhance their skills and knowledge so as to effectively guide the farmers in producing quality produce; thus, generating more incomes for the farmers in Limbang,” added Dr Abdul Rahman.

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