Pilot Project Sets Momentum For Farming Revolution

Junz showing the bell peppers (capsicums) at the Mesilau Permanent Food Production Area.

KOTA KINABALU: Eight of the first participants of a pilot fertigation programme in Mesilau are now raking in five-figure monthly incomes, setting in motion an agricultural revolution in the highlands of Kundasang and Ranau.

Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Junz Wong said the success story would be brought to the attention of the Chief Minister soon, so that more can benefit from this successful model.

“I will bring the Chief Minister to the site soon so that much more attention can be given and perhaps we can replicate this successful model throughout Sabah for the benefit of more Sabahans.”

“I was at the Mesilau Permanent Food Production Area (Taman Kekal Pengeluaran Makanan – TKPM) on Thursday to have a look at the progress of the fertigation pilot programme,” he said.

“Just imagine using a green house of only 2,000 square feet to harvest three to five hundred kilogrammes of tomatoes, twice a week and selling it at RM4 per kilo. That is RM16,000 a month.

“Or pepper bells (capsicums). The same 2,000 square feet can yield two harvests a week of about 150 to 200 kilogrammes each harvest. At about RM8 to 10 per kilogramme, one can make also about RM16,000 a month.”

Wong said he was aware that there were many TKPMs throughout the country for many years now, but that these rarely yielded any significant results.

“Participants were complaining, farmers were still poor, not many were helped and there was a lot of harm done to the environment despite a lot of money being allocated by the previous administration.”

Junz (third from right, black shirt and hat) with officers from the Agriculture Department and participants of the pilot fertigation programme at the Mesilau Permanent Food Production Area (TKPM).

According to Wong that is why after Warisan took over in 2018, the state government decided to revolutionise the agriculture sector by implementing modern technologies.

“We wanted to solve the problems faced by farmers and problems that are threatening the environment.”

Wong said at the Mesilau TKPM for example, the government decided to test run a fertigation pilot programme.

“It was intended reform the previous administration’s failed system so that participants could increase their income and at the same time avoid more pollution to the environment.”

Two years later today, we are seeing extremely positive results, he said.

“I think many Sabahans are aware how conventional farming has damaged the environment, especially in Kundasang. We have seen soil erosion due to forest cutting, the weather is not as cold as before and the soil is getting laced with more and more harmful chemicals.

“The state government is aware. That is why apart from implementing plans to help farmers, we are also making sure it is sustainable.”

This agricultural revolution is happening, he added.