Budget 2018


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Don't Replant, Open Up New Land, Says Coconut Farmer

BAGAN DATUK, Nov 3 (Bernama) -- The special coconut replanting scheme proposed by the government in Budget 2018 is timely in view of the higher returns and growing demand for virgin coconut oil, worldwide, according to coconut growers here.

Ramlee @ Arifin Hussein, 63, from Hutan Melintang here, has been planting coconut for almost 45 years and believes the move would also reduce Malaysia's dependence on imports for instance, from Indonesia.

"I am grateful for the government and the prime minister's attention and efforts to revitalise the coconut industry. It is a positive development because local supply decreased by almost 20 per cent this year and this has pushed up the price of coconut.

"Actually the people prefer local coconuts because those that come from other countries are of less quality and spoil easily," he told Bernama here, when asked to comment on Budget 2018 tabled by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak recently.

An allocation of RM50 million has been set aside in the 2018 budget for the scheme, which involved replanting of new coconut varieties, Careca and Matag, to benefit 10,000 smallholders. 

Najib, who is also Finance Ministry, said the coconut industry would merge with the pineapple and other fruit industries and managed by one board.

Bagan Datuk Farmers Organisation chairman Che Ros Osman, 78, from Kampung Sungai Nipah Darat, Rungkup, opined that it was more practical to rehabilitate the existing farms and open up new areas for planting the new varieties.

"I hope the government would have more programmes to assist the industry in the production of coconut virgin oil which is in high demand in Europe and the United States. It could boost our income and also the national economy," he added.

Meanwhile, Muhammad Isa Che Ros, 39, a coconut-based handicraft maker from Rungkup, described the announcement that the coconut industry would be managed by one board together with the pineapple and other fruit industries, as 'good news'.

All this while, coconut farmers were in limbo as the fruit was not categoriesd as a commodity and excluded as an agricultural crop.

"The coconut industry should have been given due attention because our country had always been rich in coconut production. Nevertheless, we are glad the government finally saw its relevance," he said.

Deputy Prime Minster Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported to have disclosed in a programme at Bagan Datuk that Malaysia had to import 1.5 million coconuts annually to meet demand.


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