Pineapple cultivation helps Iban community generate income

Pineapple cultivation helps Iban community generate income

SARIKEI: Fertile peat soils have enabled the Iban community in Kampung Sumping in Muara Payang here, become one of the top pineapple producers for the district.

To date, almost all 11 families living in the village are involved in the cultivation of the Nanas Sarikei variety.

Among those actively involved in the pineapple cultivation was village chief, Sumping Bayi, 56, who cultivated the crops at the Native Customary Rights (NCR) land, using funding from the Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (MPIB).

“RM3,000 assistance is provided as start-up capital to buy suckers or pups which benefited many of us here. I have managed to cultivate pineapple on 0.4 hectares of the total 1.6 hectares of land, which can produce around 3,000 pineapples per harvest.

“In this village, the harvest season is usually in January or August and the fruits will be sold at the Sentral Sarikei Pasar Tamu,” he told Bernama.

According to him, although they did not earn much profit as the pineapple is only sold between RM3.50-RM7 per piece (depending on the size), it still covers the cost of living of these families.

Taking advantage of the crops’ potential to change his life, Sumping planned to plant 20,000 suckers compared with only 3,500 currently.

His fellow villager, Ansi Uman, 67, also planned to plant more suckers due to the high demand for Nanas Sarikei.

However, he admitted that he may have to delay the plan due to the lack of connecting road between the village and Sarikei town.

“Currently, all the residents’ affairs, including transporting pineapples to Sarikei town, have to rely on a 45-minute boat ride across Sungai Rajang.

“Therefore, we hope the Jalan Pasi-Tanjong Manis project which includes the Batang Rajang bridge, announced by the state government, can solve our problem, because the proposed road will connect Muara Payang to the surrounding area; more crops can be sold at the local market,” said Ansi.

The Sarawak government in recent years has promoted Sarikei as the ‘Sarawak’s Food Basket’ as well as the central zone agropolis centre.

The Jalan Pasi-Tanjong Manis project, costing RM321 million, which is expected to be completed in 2023, shows the Sarawak government’s commitment to improving the socio-economic status of the people, including residents in Muara Payang which is located in the Kuala Rajang state constituency.

In the upcoming Sarawak polls on Dec 18, the Kuala Rajang seat will see a four-cornered fight between incumbent Datuk Talif @ Len Salleh of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) and two independents, namely Datuk Seri Abang Aditajaya Abang Alwi and Abdul Mutalip Abdullah as well as Wong Ling Ching of Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK).

In the state election in 2016, Len garnered 6,235 votes to defeat Amanah’s Sopian Junaidi and independent Asbor Abdullah.-Bernama