The five-year plan is a joint effort between the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB), the Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board and landowners, reported Malaysia’s Daily Express.
SLDB chief executive officer Jhuvarri Majid told local media on Sunday the planned 800ha of production would be spread across two districts; Banting (200ha), Sindumin/ Luagan (100ha) and Mesapol (40ha) in Sipitang; and Lumat (260ha) and Banting/Batu 6 (200ha) in Beaufort.
“This is our first step towards making Sipitang the nucleus for the fledgling pineapple industry in Sabah because of the suitable soil found there as well in the surrounding districts,” Mr Jhuvarri said.
“Our target is three-pronged. Firstly we want to optimise idle land usage that is not suitable for other crops and secondly to create a new opportunity for the rural folk to be involved in. Lastly, the SLDB wants to expand its base.”
The project is looking at a density of around 50,000 pineapple plants per ha, for production of up to 44 tonnes per ha. Mr Jhuvarri said ensuring the availability of planting material of the government’s first priority.
Harvests from the project will be initially destined for the domestic market, expanding to include Brunei in time, with exports potentially playing a part further down the line.
“It’s only once we have a bigger acreage of pineapples that we look into the export market, or go downstream such as processing and canning the fruits,” Mr Jhuvarri stated.