East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC)’s chilli fertigation programme for B40 community in Segamat to yield its first harvest

SEGAMAT, 18 FEBRUARY 2024: The East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), in collaboration with the Segamat District Office (PDS), organised the ‘Jom Tuai Cili’ to mark the successful harvest of ECERDC’s high-impact programme aimed at alleviating poverty. The first harvest cycle of ECERDC’s chilli fertigation was held at the project site of Agromix Farm in Mukim Sermin, Segamat, today.

Present at the event were the Johor State Executive Councillor for Agriculture, Agro-Based Industry and Rural Development, YB Dato’ Zahari Sarip, the Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC, YBhg. Dato’ Baidzawi Che Mat, as well as honourable guests from the Ministry of Economy, the representative of State Executive Councillor’s Office for Agriculture, Agro-Based Industry and Rural Development, Segamat District Office, Johor State Department of Agriculture, Segamat Information Office, Segamat Public Works Department, and other agencies involved in this chilli fertigation programme.

YB Dato’ Zahari Sarip, in his speech, stated that Johor has great potential to become a major chilli producer to meet local needs, reducing dependency on chilli imports. Such collaborations are highly encouraged as they will not only help farmers in terms of exposure to agricultural technology but also develop new method and techniques for farming in Malaysia to further strengthen the nation’s food security.

Using the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of its smart technology applications, this chilli fertigation initiative is a collaborative efforts between ECERDC and Grasicili Farm Sdn. Bhd. (GCFSB), which aims at developing life skills and generating income for the B40 community in Segamat, Johor, by incorporating the latest technology in chilli fertigation.

The 10-year project involves two harvest cycles per year and through this programme, ten (10) B40 workers are being employed with a monthly income of RM2,000. Additionally, these workers will receive bonuses through profits generated from their sales, which are paid monthly as an addition to their fixed salary starting from the second cycle of year one (1) once the programme begins to generate income. At the end of the programme duration, workers with potential can decide whether to continue working under the programme or become entrepreneurs on their initiative by acquiring land to implement the programme.

Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC, YBhg. Dato’ Baidzawi Che Mat, expressed appreciation to the Ministry of Economy for providing allocations for the implementation of the programme, which has enabled participants from the B40 group in Segamat to earn a monthly income of RM2,000 since October 2023.

“ECERDC also highly appreciates the support by Segamat District Agriculture Department and Johor State Agriculture Department, as well as the close cooperation of the Segamat District Office with ECERDC to ensure the success of this project. Today’s harvest proves that many economic models can be applied to help the B40 and hardcore poor and to contribute towards the national agenda of strengthening the nation’s food security,” said Dato’ Baidzawi.

Dato’ Baidzawi further added that ECERDC hopes that GCFSB, as the project implementation company will ensure continuous harvest cycles to sustain the project and become a catalyst for the implementation of similar agricultural projects to help the B40 community and hardcore poor to generate stable income while strengthening the socio-economic development of local communities.

In addition to this project in Segamat, the chili fertigation project has also been implemented in Bachok, Kelantan this year, and the next location in Pekan, Pahang will commence in March 2024. ECERDC is also identifying suitable lands in other locations throughout the East Coast Economic Region for future large-scale implementation.

Chilli is a high-value crop for cultivation as it is one of the vegetables and fruits that have not reached 100% Self-Sufficiency Level (SSL) in 2022 recording only 29.7%. The national direction for this subsector has been outlined to prioritise increasing the yields of crops that have yet to reach 100% SSL to support the nation’s food security agenda.