PETALING JAYA, Sept 24 (Bernama) — The government has urged the private sector to join in the bandwagon to invigorate the industry.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub said the industry could generate income and wealth, and bring prosperity to farmers as well as manufacturers.
“We will encourage the private sector to come aboard and share technologies in the industry and the private sector (role) will become the anchor companies to encourage smallholders (to plant coconuts),” he told reporters after the 54th Asian And Pacific Coconut Community (APCC) Session and Ministerial Meeting here today.
Salahuddin said during the 1950’s to 1970’s Malaysia was an exporter of coconuts before the emergence of oil palm.
He said currently every year the country imports about 120 million coconuts mainly from Indonesia to meet domestic needs which are estimated to exceed 650 million coconuts a year.
“Domestic demand is expected to increase to up to 1 billion coconuts by 2020,” he said.
Malaysia remains one of the top 10 coconut-producing countries in the world and coconut is the fourth most important industrial crop in Malaysia after oil palm, rubber, and rice.
Salahuddin said coconut, together with other food crops such as durians and pineapples, contributed three per cent to Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP) for five consecutive years.
He said Malaysia has its fair share of experience in the trade in coconut-based exports, which increased by 70.7 per cent from 18,481 metric tonnes in 2012 to 63,074 metric tonnes in 2016.
“Despite a positive growth, more needs to be done. This includes efforts to increase productivity as well as adapting to the dynamic market requirement,” he added.
Salahuddin said Malaysia needs to explore new technologies to ensure that the country can compete internationally.