Experts Back ECER Herbal Hub

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 (Bernama) — Industry experts are confident the East Coast
Economic Region (ECER) can propel itself into a global herb garden, citing ample land for
large-scale farming and a cost structure that is cheaper than west coast states.
They said the availability and cheaper cost of farming land, coupled with the government’s
integrated approach on herbal farming was the “right strategy” and would develop the
country’s herbal potential.
“This is backed by intensifying research and design (R&D) efforts, promotion and marketing
of herbal products,” ECER secretariat said in a statement here today.
Mardi deputy director for agronomy and production system programme, Mansor Puteh, said
ECER’s integrated approach, from farming to R&D, marketing and promotion of herbs, was
needed to make herbs a viable venture.
“This will provide an impetus to large-scale farming and commercialization,” he said.
He said while there was great potential, the establishment of proper pricing mechanism and
marketing channels was important because the farmers would not know how to price the
herbs which were not widely traded.
“It is open to negotiation and will depend on market forces. One good way to solve this will
be contract farming to make the growing of herbs more commercialized,” he said.
Meanwhile, RAM Holdings Bhd chief economist, Dr Yeah Kim Leng, said the ECER efforts
would provide the right environment to pull in private investment to develop the country’s
herbal potential.
“This is important in developing the R&D, marketing and efficiency of herbal products that
can meet global standards,” he said.
ECER’s herbal focus encompasses the construction of integrated herbal parks in Kelantan,
Terengganu and Pahang.
The local herbal market, currently estimated to be worth RM4.55 billion, is growing at an
annual rate of 15 to 20 percent, though about 90 percent of raw materials used in the herbal
industry in Malaysia are imported from China, Indonesia and India.
The target for the national herbal programme is to meet almost half of the country’s demand
for herbal and biotech products by 2010 and to supply 60 percent of the local demand by