The Perak State Agricultural Development Corporation (SADC) has experimented with the planting of rock melon (cantaloupe) as part of an on-going project to improve agricultural productivity in the state. The melon, which originated from Iran and India, is planted on ex-mining land in Batu Gajah, which is deemed unsuitable for agriculture.
Using soil-less technology, ten high-tech greenhouses are being built. The first of the rock melons, with seeds commissioned and named Perak Gold 1 and Perak Gold 2, were planted last year under controlled conditions. Rock melon was chosen in this project because of its short maturity period of about 75 to 80 days and the huge demand for the fruit overseas.
With a land size of eight hectares, the rock melon farm when fully developed, will accommodate a total of 25 saw-tooth type greenhouses. The expected revenue for 2014 is RM2.4 million at a conservative ex-farm price of RM4.50 per kg.
During a recent visit to the rock melon farm, Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, who is also the Chairman of Perak SADC, symbolically harvested rock melons from the mini greenhouse. This particular greenhouse has produced over one thousand fruits during its third cycle. The first commercial rock melon harvesting is expected on March 22.
Some 30 minutes’ drive away, in Sungai Galah, Mukim Tanjung Tualang, is SADC’s pilot integrated farming and agro-tourism project. Utilising ex-mining land measuring 268 hectares, the agency has planted different types of plants, including fruit trees and herbs. Meanwhile, the three huge ponds on the land are used for fish and duck farming.
The project was launched by Zambry on the same morning. The main objective of this integrated farm is to improve incomes of the community through agriculture.