KEMAMAN, July 6 — The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry requires at least 300,000 hectares of land to turn maize grain cultivation as a new agricultural industry to meet domestic livestock requirements, said its Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
In order to achieve this objective, he said, it was necessary for the federal and state governments to extend their cooperation in preparing to expand the new industry.
"It is not as easy as it seems because we need the support of everyone including the central and state governments as they have plenty of idle land," he told reporters after launching a national seminar on the Development of Grain Corn Industry, here today.
Also present were Agriculture Department director-general Datuk Ahmad Zakaria Mohamad Sidek and State Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Committee chairman Datuk Mohamad Pehimi Yusof.
Ahmad Shabery said a grain corn pilot project had been implemented since March in Kampung Dadong, near here and the second harvest from the 30-hectare site had produced about 200 tonnes.
The success of this project has changed the mindset of local farmers who had the idea that it was impossible for the country to produce grain corn as the main source of food for livestock.
Apart from Dadong, the grain corn were also cultivated in Ru Tapai, Setiu and Kuala Berang, Hulu Terengganu and several other areas on trial basis, in an attempt to produce high quality grain corn.
"I believe the Terengganu government can take into consideration the required acreage and number of farmers needed to develop this new grain corn cultivation as a model industry," he said.
He said last year the country imported RM46.74 billion worth of agricultural produce while exports were estimated at RM30.15 billion which resulted in a trade deficit of RM16.59 billion.
He added that the country's food trade deficit was, among others, contributed by imports of agricultural produce especially grain corn from Argentina, Brazil and the United States.
At the seminar Ahmad Shabery also presented incentives to 291 corn grain entrepreneurs nationwide which involved an allocation of RM4,191,590.
Terengganu had the largest number of participants with 138 recipients sharing an allocation of RM1,656,590. — Bernama