KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 (Bernama) — A 200- hectare sweet potato plantation in Terengganu and
Kelantan will enhance the East Coast Economic Region (ECER)’s food production plans, paving the
way for food self-sufficiency.
Lembaga Pertubuhan Peladang (LPP) has already planted 122 hectares of Vitato sweet potato with
with an investments of RM1.23 million, the ECER secretariat said today.
The ECER’s target is to plant 1,000 hectares of the crop, in line with its master plan to have more
short-term crops within the Bachok-Besut-Setiu-Kuala Berang Agro Valley.
The Agro Valley which has high incidences of poverty has been identified for short-term crops such as
sweet potato, the secretariat said.
“LPP’s sweet potato plantation stretches over 50 hectares in Kampung Setiu and another 40 hectares
in Kampung Gong Machang, Besut, in Terengganu since January 2008,” it said in a statement.
In Kelantan, it has two 16-hectare sweet potato farms in Kandis and Bachok.
The four farms are managed by the Area Farmers’ Organisations (Persatuan Peladang Kawasan),
involving a total of 99 farmers.
In its first phase of 200 hectares, LPP is targeting a harvest of 2,400 to 4,000 metric tonnes of sweet
potato within the next three to four months.
According to LPP Terengganu, more than 120 metric tonnes of Vitato sweet potato have already been
harvested and the output is expected to double when the Kampung Gong Machang, Besut farm is
ready for harvest in August.
Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, in a recent visit, said the
ministry will intensify and expand cultivation of the Vitato sweet potato to make it a major food item
besides rice for Malaysians.
He said research conducted by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute
(MARDI) showed that the crop also had big potential to replace tobacco.
LPP has appointed the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA), Pertubuhan Peladang Negeri
Terengganu and National Farmers Association to promote and market Vitato nationwide.
Rohizad Ridzwan, FAMA’s director of fresh produce division, said Vitato is available at 12 selected
farmers’ markets in the Klang Valley and two each in Johor and Penang since June 15.
Introduced by MARDI in June 2007, Vitato or “ipomoea batatas” was the result of a five-year research
carried out by Dr Tan Swee Lian and Zaharah Arrifin, both research officers from its Rice and
Industrial Crop Research Centre.