Believe it or not, the harumanis mango which grows abundantly in northern Malaysia has also been thriving in BRIS (beach ridges interspersed with swales) soil in Terengganu for the past 40 years.
Following the success of a 2016 Terengganu Agriculture Department experiment in growing Mangifera indica Linn at Pusat Pembangunan Komoditi Rhu Tapai, Terengganu Agriculture, Agro-Based Industries and Rural Development committee chairman, Dr Azman Ibrahim, ordered a census to be carried out in districts where this sandy soil is typically found.
“Marang, Kuala Nerus and Kuala Terengganu were surveyed and in each we found about 100 harumanis trees aged between 30 and 40 years which fruit three times a year,” he told Bernama.
Unaware of its value, and believing they were just a mas itam or common variety of mango, kampung folk left the fruit to rot on the ground.
Three years ago, the Rhu Tapai project literally bore fruit that was similar in quality to what was produced in northern Malaysia.
Naturally the aim of the state government is to see the high-quality fruit penetrating overseas markets because it doesn’t just promote crop diversification but also increases the income of farmers, said Azman.
“What is happening now is all part of the 2019-2023 Terengganu Agricultural Strategic Plan. The department is working with others to gather people who are interested in growing harumanis.
“Farming is a career, so the youth of Terengganu should take up available courses,” he said.
He added that much of the state’s roughly 68,000ha of land covered with BRIS soil has been left idle and this is why the state government is keen to invest in people who will bring the plan to fruition through market guidance and assistance.
Nurul Ameera Mohammad, the agricultural officer overseeing the growing of harumanis in Rhu Tapai, said: “In the beginning, there were just 30 trees which (three years ago) produced the first batch of 20 – 60 fruit per season. Now we have 2ha with over 200 harumanis trees.”
She said that based on records about this variety, if it is well cared for, fruit production will continue even if the tree is 20 years old.
“Certainly it requires a hot climate to grow, but we’ve also found that this variety of mango thrives in sandy soil with four to five months of hot weather,” Nurul Ameera said.
She said even she was surprised when the trees started producing sweet-smelling and tasting fruit, but now considers the soil around Terengganu well-suited for growing harumanis, with fruit produced more than once a year.
In fact, the Terengganu Agriculture Department is teaching the kampung folk how to treat their trees well to reap high-quality fruit, too. – BERNAMA