SEGAMAT: The East Coast Economic Regional Development Council (ECERDC) is targeting 405 hectares of land in the region to be developed as a people’s income initiative (IPR) area, by cultivating chilli using the fertigation method.

ECERDC chief executive officer Datuk Baidzawi Che Mat said that the crops are to be cultivated in Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan and Johor (Mersing and Segamat) and involve the cooperation of the Ministry of Economy, district offices, the agriculture department and the private sector, with Segamat being a pilot project involving a land area of two hectares.

He said, that starting in October last year, the fertigation method, using smart technology (IoT) applications, involves 12 participants from the B40 group, each of whom is now able to generate income of up to RM2,000 per month.

“With the success of this pilot project (in Segamat), we will implement it in another place, including in Bachok, Kelantan, in January, besides planning to implement it in Pekan, Pahang, in March.

“For this year alone we plan to open about 40.5 hectares for the IPR project, and in Johor, we are in the process of finding about another 12 hectares,” he told reporters, after the Let’s Harvest Chili for high-impact small project at ECERDC Grasicili Farm Sdn Bhd, in Mukim Sermin, here, today.

Meanwhile, Johor Agriculture, Agro-based Industry and Rural Development Committee chairman Datuk Zahari Sarip said that the project, which involved 20,000 chilli plants, yielded almost 40 tonnes in the first harvest.

He said that through this programme, the participants also received guidance and exposure related to agricultural technology, as well as developing new technology in agriculture to further strengthen the country’s food security.

“We are also planning to increase the cultivation area (chilli) in Johor to cover local needs and reduce the dependence on chilli imports, where currently only about 30 per cent of local chilli production is in the market,“ he said.

Meanwhile, a participant, Mohd Fazil Sukor, 36, said that he was grateful after being selected to be one of the participants for this five-year fertigation initiative, with an estimated harvest twice a year.

“Previously, I also planted chilli on a small scale in the outskirts of Segamat town, but the project was stopped due to floods, and thankfully this new area is in a hilly area that is not at risk of flooding,” he said. - Bernama

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