Not enough supply of coconuts for export

18 May 2017

ISKANDAR PUTERI: Johor may be the largest coconut producer in the peninsular but supply is still not enough for export due to the huge demand for the fruit in the country.

State Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Committee chairman Ismail Mohamed said nationwide, Johor ranked third as the largest coconut producer after Sabah and Sarawak.

He said last year, Johor recorded 11,183ha of coconut plantations, compared to 2006 where land spanning 21,643ha was used to plant coconuts.

“In the peninsular, Johor produces the most number of coconuts, with 79,273 metric tonnes last year,” he said at the state assembly sitting.

He said there was a high demand locally for coconut milk or santan and coconut water, forcing the country to import some 129,000 coconuts from neighbouring countries such as Indonesia.

“The local coconut production is still not enough to cater to the local demand, let alone for export purposes,” he said, adding that there was a drop in coconut production in the past 10 years due to the competitive price of oil palm.

Ismail said a company from Batu Pahat was trying to obtain a permit from the Agriculture Department to export 500,000 coconuts to China but is facing difficulties as the government has to give priority to local demands first.

Among the issues and challenges faced by the country’s coconut industry include the age factor of both the coconut farmers and trees as well as low income due to the size of their plantation, which ranged from 0.2ha to 2ha, he said.

Ismail added that a majority of the trees planted were old varieties such as the Malayan Tall and other problems faced by the farmers were pest and diseases that destroy the trees.

He also highlighted that many farmers were still using the conventional and not systematic farm management method.

“To address these problems, the Agriculture Department is encouraging the planting of shorter trees or dwarf species as the coconuts are easier to produce, trees stronger and can produce fruits as early as in three years.

“The department is also keen on providing services like technical and agronomy advice in efforts to increase the quantity and quality of coconuts in the country,” he said.

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