Growing demand for kenaf

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok says Pahang farmers plant kenaf on a rotational basis with rice.

ROMPIN: Kenaf cultivation has great potential due to the growing demand for products made from this plant, which are more environmentally-friendly than plastic or polystyrene.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said among kenaf products, there is a growing demand for the paper product from the stem of the plant, which can replace the use of plastic and polystyrene.

She said the global market for paper products was also expected to grow, reaching US$342.2 billion (RM1.43 trillion) by 2025, which will surely contribute to the development of the eco-fibre-based industry, including kenaf.

“The kenaf industry has immense potential and we hope many industry players will take the opportunity to invest in kenaf cultivation, especially from the private sector and state government, who are expected to cooperate with the ministry.

“We need to create a production chain that covers all aspects of kenaf crop cultivation so that when the plants are fully grown, there are already those who can manage the cost of processing and marketing,” she said.

Kok was speaking to reporters after opening the National Kenaf and Tobacco Board Kenaf Industrial Centre (LKTN) here today.

It was attended by Pahang State Agriculture, Agro-based Industries and Biotechnology Committee chairman Mohd Soffi Abdul Razak, LKTN chairman Wan Abd Rahim Wan Abdullah and LKTN director-general Samsudin Noor.

The LKTN has targeted kenaf cultivation area to reach 10,000ha  in the next five years, and Kok said the plant was proposed to be designated as a mixed crop due to the short harvest period.

“I understand that the people involved in the cultivation of kenaf here are farmers, who plant them on a rotational basis with rice.

“We see there is still a lot of idle land here and incentives can be given to plant kenaf as every part of the plant can be utilised,” she said.

Kok said that in Pahang, there were 418 kenaf growers covering 635ha and LKTN had submitted an application to get more land for kenaf cultivation.

Kok said the development of the Kenaf In-Situ processing centre was done in collaboration with the private sector, involving a cost of RM4 million and a RM2 million pulp and paper processing facility with the capacity to process 10,000 tonnes of dried kenaf stems a year.

“PPKI is expected to produce 500 tonnes of fibre a year with a value of RM1.25 million while production of brown-paper products is estimated at 1,800 tonnes, worth RM3.6 million, for the domestic and export markets,” she said.

At the event, Kok also presented a payment of RM1.63 million for kenaf production in 2019 to the planters as well as witnessed an exchange of a document of agreement (MoA) between LKTN, represented by Samsudin, and Kenaf Pulp Sdn Bhd, represented by its director, Yong Tan Heang, for the brown-paper production project.

The LKTN also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Malaysian Space Agency (MYSA), represented by its director Azlikamil Napiah, for the Geospatial Information System and Remote Sensing kenaf crop project to facilitate a more efficient and systematic monitoring process.