Iskandar Malaysia eyes modern farming

Irda’s Ismail with a map showing the Greater Iskandar Malaysia region. — ZAZALI MUSA/The Star

JOHOR BHARU: The Iskandar Regional Development Authority (Irda) is looking to emulate Netherlands’ success story in developing modern agriculture and promote it in Malaysia’s first economic corridor.

Irda’s chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim said they would work closely with the Agriculture Ministry to develop modern farming activities in Iskandar Malaysia.

He said since the Federal Government announced the doubling of the area of coverage, from 2,217sq km to 4,749sq km, Iskandar Malaysia would be able to provide more land for development at an affordable cost, besides introducing new methods of farming.

“Apart from the Netherlands, we could also look at California (United States), Australia and New Zealand as they are the major producers of agriculture-related products in the world,’’ said Ismail in an interview with StarMetro.

Netherlands is the world leader in agricultural innovation, thanks to its use of new technology and knowledge. Despite its small size (42,508sq km), the Dutch are also the world’s second largest food exporter after the US, as measured by value.

Ismail said Irda and the Ministry would need to conduct more research and studies on modern farming methods and how applicable they are here before moving forward.

The expanded Iskandar Malaysia will be known as Greater Iskandar Malaysia, and will encompass parts of Kluang in central Johor, Kota Tinggi in the east and Pontian in the west. Ismail said the areas would also include Simpang Renggam and Renggam in Kluang, Pontian town and Pengerang and Desaru in Kota Tinggi.

“The way forward for us is to modernise farming activities in Iskandar Malaysia to bring high yield and better returns to our farmers and to reduce our dependency on food imports,’’ he said.

Ismail said Irda and the Agriculture Ministry want to attract and encourage youths in Kluang, Kota Tinggi and Pontian to take up modern farming.

He said one option to develop such modern farming methods in the three areas was to engage with existing smallholders to come together and form a consortium to produce vegetables, fruits, eggs, poultry and meat, not only for the domestic market but also for export.

Ismail said it only logical to include Pengerang and Desaru as part of the Greater Iskandar Malaysia in order to attract more investors and players from the oil and gas and the tourism sectors there.

Source: The Star Online