KOTA MARUDU, June 1 (Bernama) – In response to encouraging demand, Pisang Sabah is now a crop with farming focus in this district.

Some 238.9ha have already been planted with the local banana variety, generating high returns for growers.

Kota Marudu agriculture officer, Dg Rohaya Ag Daud, said several villages like Kuranji, Damai, Tarang Kapas, Gorantung, Sumbilingon, Marudu Laut and Teringai have begun planting Pisang Sabah.

It is easy to grow in a warm and humid climate with fruit ready to be reaped after 10-12 months, and can easily be grown as a secondary crop in coconut, palm oil and cocoa plantations, she told Bernama.

A generous yield has also provided small-and-medium entrepreneurs with an opportunity to go into banana chip making.

A food manufacturing factory was opened last July under the Kota Marudu Local Farmers’ Organisation (PPK) and is now supplying the market in a few districts in Sabah.

Kota Marudu PPK manager, Janis Kansirong, said that at any one time, the business is able to churn out 2,000 packets of banana chips from 500-600kgs of raw material.

Janis said 3ha of land in Kuranji has been planted with Pisang Sabah for a trial period, with a few farmers designated as banana collection agents.

One of these farmers from Kampung Teringai Darat is Guntail Matail who has planted 8ha with the banana and has been recognised as a ‘model farmer’.

The Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) said it buys Pisang Sabah from farmers in the district for sale in Peninsular Malaysia.

Kota Marudu district FAMA manager, Zulazrie Amirul, added that the good quality banana from here fulfils demand and goes for a wholesale price of between 80 sen and 90 sen per kg.

He said FAMA has been sourcing banana bunches from Kota Marudu at 11 tonnes a week since 2012.