A 200-hectare kenaf plantation in the Chuping Valley Industrial Area, Malaysia
From paper to furniture and from biofuel to textiles, a plant that most people may not have heard about can be used to produce many types of eco-friendly materials. That is Kenaf, a warm-season annual row crop in the same plant family as okra and cotton.
In Malaysia, kenaf is fast becoming the country's third industrial crop after palm oil and rubber after first being introduced in 2010. Across the country, there are about 2,000 hectares of kenaf farms, including those run by smallholders— the export value of which stood at RM10 million.
Locals, however, are not keen to work in plantations despite lucrative income. At the same time, "the production of downstream industrial products (end products), including fiber for local usage, is still low," said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin, after visiting a 200-hectare kenaf plantation in the Chuping Valley Industrial Area (CVIA) this October.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Zuraida was adding fertilizers into the container of XAG Agricultural Drone.
In addition to assistance for kenaf cultivation from the National Kenaf and Tobacco Board (LKTN), Malaysia government also supports the introduction of drones and robots to help reduce the labor burden. During the visit, XAG's local partner Alliance Agrotech hosted a field demo of autonomous farming drones and invited the minister to experience the new tech. With these great helpers, farmers can easily handle fertilizers and pesticides spraying with high precision.
The ready-to-work drone from XAG is waiting on field for its mission
Kenaf may already be "all over the place", including the production of industrial building system, pulp for environmentally friendly packaging, biocomposites and animal feed. Malaysia, as a leading exporter of kenaf, will be continuously providing high-quality kenaf and other end products in the future to build a stronger and sustainable economy.