Bank Pertanian to aid kenaf farmers

KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Pertanian Malaysia envisages zero financing
problems for farmers who opt to replace their tobacco with kenaf farms,
under the East Coast Economic Region (ECER).
The bank which has been entrusted to channel the tobacco loan
scheme, said alternative financing can be offered or arrangements can
be made to convert the present tobacco schemes to kenaf farms, said
general manager Martini Osman.
“The initiatives are part of efforts to bolster the bank’s presence and
exposure to the farming community especially those involved in projects
under the ECER,” she said.
Kenaf farming has come to the forefront recently because the Asean
Free Trade Area which takes effect in 2010, will see Malaysia reduce
duties on tobacco imports, making tobacco farming here less
The world’s largest producers of tobacco are China and Brazil, followed
by India, the US and Greece .
Tobacco farming has been the bread-and-butter of many rural Kelantan
and Terengganu households for many years.
Under the ECER, the target area for kenaf is about 10,000ha. It is
expected to increase the income of 10,000 marginal tobacco farmers
and create more jobs.
The Government had allocated RM2mil for kenaf research under the
Seventh Malaysia Plan (1996-2000) and RM3.2mil for the same purpose
under the Eighth Malaysia Plan (2001-2005).
Kenaf, also known as hibiscus cannabinus, is a fibrous plant that
matures in 100 to 1,000 days.
The kenaf plant can be processed into paper, clothing, building material,
car accessories and bio-fuel. Studies carried out on cows in Japan showed that those fed with kenaf
produced up to 45% milk more than others.
Kenaf makes quality animal feed because its protein content is between
22% and 25% compared with cut grass, which contains only 12%.
Kenaf seeds yield a vegetable oil that is edible and high in omega
The kenaf oil is also used in cosmetics, industrial lubricants and bio-fuel.
The shrub, which grows to a height of 1.75m in just a month, is also able
to produce very strong and long strands of fibre, suitable for housing
construction, car seats, padding and trimmings, and various grades of
paper from newsprint to bond paper.