GEORGE TOWN: A 164ha hill valley land near Paya Terubong here will be developed for an agro-tourism project over the next five years.
The project, overlooking the Bukit Kukus Bypass bridge, will combine the features of a nature resort with flying fox lines.
It will also improve food security by encouraging vegetable and fruit farming.
The state-owned land under the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) was leased for 40 years to Kat Resources Sdn Bhd (KRSB), which will develop it at a cost of about RM40 million over three phases.
Chief minister Chow Kon Yeow, who is also PDC chairman, said a quarter of the site had been illegally cleared for vegetable farming.
He said this new project would integrate existing farmers into a systematic and planned development under the watchful eyes of the state agricultural department.
“The land is great for farming and yet, the views from these hills are stunning,” he said at a press conference here.
PDC CEO Aziz Bakar said the hill site is now home to some 150-odd vegetable farmers who plant a variety of produce from spinach to potatoes.
He said the existing farmers will be “blended” into the project, with plots of land given to them to carry out farming through a land lease.
Aziz said PDC stands to make RM24 million through a 40-year land lease it signed with KRSB.
KRSB CEO Teoh Kok Aun said his company had set aside RM20 million for early infrastructure works, which will take five years.
Another RM20 million will be needed for tourism products. Teoh also expects 400 jobs to be created.
He said large orchards with musang king, black thorn and cempedak king variety durians would be planted there, with an estimated revenue of RM3 million yearly. Tourism products will bring another RM5 million annually.
A flying fox line spanning the valley of the two hills, hiking trails, glamping and other outdoor activities have also been proposed, Teoh said.
He expects to wait a year before beginning the project as it has yet to get necessary approvals from the Penang Island City Council and other relevant agencies.