LAST year, while more than 3,000 Harumanis mango farmers suffered a huge blow when their crops were affected by the Super El Nino phenomenon, Saidin Saad was among the few lucky ones who enjoyed a higher yield.
The 66-year-old was all smiles while strolling among his Harumanis trees which produced the special tropical mango breed, known for its aromatic and exotic taste, in his 0.28ha farm in Kampung Paya Kelubi in Bukit Keteri.
Therefore, it was no surprise when I discovered he had fenced up his farm with a concrete wall during my visit recently.
Theft is rampant during the Harumanis’ harvesting season, which started this month.
It is common for farmers to hire locals as guards to protect their crops from thieves who will usually strike between midnight and 3am.
Harumanis is special because it grows well only in Perlis, which has the hottest and driest climate in the country.
Last year, its total yield suffered a substantial drop of nearly 60 per cent, from 2,200 metric tonnes recorded in previous years to 1,000 metric tonnes.
This poor yield halted its supply to overseas markets such as Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong.
This year, farmers who began harvesting their crops last week, have reason to cheer as it appears that the situation has recovered.
The state government has set the ceiling price of Harumanis mangoes at RM26 per kg. Despite this, they can fetch up RM38 per kg and for those in the higher grade, RM45 per kg.
Recently, state Agriculture and Agro-based Committee chairman Ahmad Bakri Ali told the state legislative assembly that the Perlis government was working with the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry to monitor traders selling fake Harumanis.
He warned traders not to tarnish Perlis and Harumanis’ names.
Ahmad’s concern is understandable given that the Harumanis is worth millions of ringgit, not to mention the number of visitors who come to Perlis for it.
The key to Perlis’ successful Harumanis’ cultivation is its hot weather.
Related to this, Chuping, which holds the record as the hottest place in Malaysia (its temperature was recorded at 40.1°C in 1998), has been earmarked by the state government to set up a renewable energy generation powerhouse under the Chuping Valley Industrial Area (CVIA) project.
To be developed on 1,200ha, CVIA is the much-needed catalyst for Perlis’ economic growth.
The project, launched by Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail, is spearheaded by the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority with the cooperation of the Perlis government.
CVIA has sparked excitement among industry players, in particular investors in the renewable energy sector, who had sensed Chuping’s potential to generate high returns for their investment.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man said CVIA would create more than 25,000 jobs by 2030.
Besides renewable energy, two main components in CVIA are green-manufacturing and the halal industry.
Perlis is well on its way to transforming itself into an industrial state, capitalising on the gift of its weather.
Adie Suri Zulkefli is Kedah’s NST bureau .