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The Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek (left) gestures during the ‘Fiesta Nanas 60 Tahun’ at Bandar Baru Pontian Commercial Centre. With him are the ministry’s exco Ismail Mohamed (right) and Malaysia Pineapple Industry Board (LPNM) chairman Datuk Samsolbari Jamali (2nd from left). Pic by HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM

PONTIAN: The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry is optimistic about Malaysia's capability of becoming a leading global exporter of pineapples due to the surging demand for the fruit in the global market.

Its minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the high demand for pineapple, which is the country's second most exported crop after banana, has been increasing and he expects exports to soar to approximately RM200 million by next year.

Shabery said the ministry and the Malaysia Pineapple Industry Board (LPNM) was working on several initiatives to boost the pineapple production including identifying new lands for the fruit cultivation, providing grants and monetary assistant to farmers, development of pineapple by-products and research to overcome the fruit cultivation problems such as faster reproduction growth and reducing damage on crops and extending product freshness.

"These initiatives are backed by the RM30 million allocation received in next year's budget and will spur greater development for the country's pineapple industry," he said.

He added the ministry was also confident that the pineapple industry would become a new emerging economic booster for Malaysia's agro-food growth and development.

"The confidence stems from the long wait for the country's pineapples to penetrate the China market. However, the 10-year wait ended early this month when China finally open its door to import about eight containers of pineapples, although they had initially asked for 20 containers to be shipped to them," he said.

Shabery was speaking to the media after launching the Fiesta Nanas 60 Tahun at the Bandar Baru Pontian Commercial Centre which will be held for four days starting today.

Various fun filled activities, educational exhibitions and sale of goods produced from pineapples as well as appearances by celebrities will be featured throughout the festival period which is held in conjunction with the 60th anniversary of LPNM.

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