Not for the half-hearted

Muhammad Subri (centre) together with his workers plucking the ripe rockmelon (melon manis) for sale at Taman Kekal Pengeluaran Makanan (TKPM) Peradong, Manir in Kuala Terengganu recently. Photo: Bernama

KUALA TERENGGANU: Being an agropreneur requires a high level of patience and is definitely not for those who tend to do things half-heartedly and not willing to spend long hours under the sun.

In fact, those who want to get serious in agricultural business should understand that they may not earn any quick income and must be prepared to “suffer” to make ends meet until their crops are ready for harvest.

These are among the important points highlighted by four successful agropreneurs involved in cultivating a local variety of rockmelon known was Melon Manis Terengganu (MMT) at the Peradong Permanent Food Production Park (TKPM) near Manir here.

Muhammad Subri Zaid, 35, who ventured into agricultural business four years ago, said those points were not meant to discourage those who are trying their luck in the industry, but instead to enable them to be prepared and remain strong to face the many challenges that will come their way.

The holder of Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Power Engineering hoped that new agropreneurs would not only be interested in gaining profits, but also in gaining as much knowledge as possible to sustain their business.

“People may admire the flexible time and financial stability that I’m enjoying now, but truth be told, it did not come easy. I had so many things to learn about the agribusiness before I finally resigned from my post as a project engineer to concentrate on the business.

“Agriculture industry can offer a bright future if the player has a positive mind, a strong will and always keep up with the latest technology. However, if you choose to become an agropreneur just because you saw another agropreneur’s success, you will not go anywhere because this is not for fun,” he told Bernama when met recently.

Sharing the sentiment was Wan Chik Wan Ahmad, 60, who said that he had seen many young men gave up in their attempts to become agropreneurs even though they were given proper guidance by the Agriculture Department.

He said this was mostly because they were not willing to roll their sleeves up and get their hands dirty, and would resort to hiring other people to do the job, even though the income was uncertain and there was no guarantee that they could get a good harvest.

“No pain, no gain. If you work hard, you can gain income in multi-folds as compared to employees with monthly salary, but if you do it half-heartedly, then be prepared to get lesser and low-quality yield, and definitely lower income, if not losses. 

“There have been many times that I met young people who ventured into agricultural business for fun, without any knowledge and too proud to ask for guidance from the seniors who have more experience in this area. Some even failed because they partnered with people who have different goals,” said Wan Chik, who also grows cash crops around his house.

Meanwhile, the youngest agropreneur at TKPM Peradong, Halim Ismail, 30, suggested that those wishing to venture into farming to have sufficient savings to support themselves while waiting for harvest season and be willing to work day and night.

Halim said he believed he made the right decision to leave his oil and gas job to venture into the business.

“I came from a farming family and it has always been my ambition to become an agropreneur, but I don’t have the time before because I was busy with my career which required me to work offshore.

“Alhamdulillah, last year I found out that TKPM Peradong has vacancies and was looking for new agropreneurs. So, I submitted my application and went for the interview. Due to my knowledge in agriculture, I was accepted to join the programme,” said Halim, who now earns RM8,000 a month or over RM30,000 a season. 

Meanwhile, TKPM Peradong manager Mohd Khairil Azuan Aziz from the Terengganu Agriculture Department welcomed anyone who is interested to seriously venture into agricultural business.

“We are ever ready to guide and we have many success stories to tell. There are a lot of good career opportunities in the agriculture sector awaiting the young people if they are willing to take it,” he said.

The MMT is the state’s fruit icon and popular for its sweet, crunchy and creamy taste compared to other melon varieties in the whole world.

The MMT is exclusively available in Terengganu at RM8 per kilogramme. – Bernama