KUALA NERANG: Residents in rural areas in the state are advised not to rush into planting ketum (mitragyna speciosa or kratom) on their land even though there are suggestions to allow ketum leaves to be exported for medicinal purposes.

Rural Development Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the people should wait for the official decision of the federal government on the matter.

“We can be a positive and progressive person on issues linked to ketum, but let us wait for the decision of the government.

“So, if the decision of the government later is in favour of exporting ketum leaves, only then we act according to the stipulated law,” he said.

He told reporters when met at the Padang Terap Parliamentary Constituency Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration here today.

He was asked to comment on news reports that ketum planting activities were allegedly widespread besides the opening of farms or ketum plantation in the state specifically in Padang Terap district.

Mahdzir, who is also Padang Terap MP, said the planting of ketum trees by rural residents specifically in this district had been long carried out but he refuted claims there were new ketum farms or plantations opened.

He said when there was a proposal to allow the export of ketum leaves, rural residents or ketum planters looked at it as an opportunity to work on the crop.

“So, it is not an addition, but when there is good news, despite it not being confirmed or approved, they regarded it as positive, so they took care of their farms again which have been neglected prior to this,” he said.

In another development, Mahdzir said Yayasan Pelajaran MARA (YPM) had channelled schooling aid to 53,741 students nationwide involving an allocation of RM4.1 million last year.

Among others, the aid involved a one-off financial assistance and schooling items contributed to the needy students to start the schooling session.

“We expect the same amount of YPM aid allocation to be channelled to needy students this year,” he added.-Bernama