The government needs 20,000 more hectares for the Permanent Food Production Park (TKPM) to boost food production, said Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed.mustapamohmad

He urged state governments to allocate more land for the project as it would increase food output, generate value, and create more entrepreneurs and employment opportunities for the local populace.

So far the government had acquired 1,800ha for the project, he said, adding that, there were 45 TKPMs nationwide involving 803 participants.

The participants were made up of 645 agro-entrepreneurs and owners of 149 companies, he said at the launch of TKPM Lanchang by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi here on Tuesday.

The 3,600-hectare TKPM Lanchang was one of the three TKPMs within the East Coast Economic region (ECER).

Mustapa said TKPM Lanchang would be a catalyst in bridging the gap between the rich and the poor in the east coast.

He said the ministry would provide an additional allocation of RM25 million to TKPM Lanchang to step-up its activities to enable the participants to earn up to RM3,000 a month.

So far the government had spent RM14 million for infrastructure, and electricity and water supplies at the project, he added.

He said as Lanchang was only one hour from Kuala Lumpur, the project could be turned into an agro-tourism destination besides exporting the produce.

Started in 2003, TKPM Lanchang is made up of two components – the agro-entrepreneurs section and the Lanchang Modern Agricultural Park developed by the private sector.

Mustapa said the project was expected to produce 60,000 metric tonnes of fruits for local consumption and export worth RM78 million yearly.

“So far, 2,156ha of the 3,200ha Lanchang Modern Agricultural Park had been allotted to 39 companies by the state government,” he said.

“TKPM will boost food supplies and stabilise the prices while improving farmers’ income. The food sector will contribute significantly to the agriculture industry as the third revenue earner for the country,” he said.

— BERNAMA