JERLUN: A total 138 hectares (ha) of land in the country are currently being cultivated with the ketum plant, mostly in Kedah and Perlis.
National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah said this situation require legal provisions to prevent the outbreak of ketum abuse capable of having negative effects on society, especially among the youth.
He said the amendment to the Poisons Act 1952, which is in the final stages before being tabled in Parliament, would ensure enforcement on the plant be carried out in a more effective manner.
“Previously, it was an offence to be in possession of processed ketum, its juice and leaves, but in the near future, after the amendment is passed by the Parliament, it will also be an offence to cultivate, supply and export it,” he told a press conference after a meeting with Kedah and Perlis ketum growers, here today.
Zulkifli said the amendment was expected to be tabled and debated in the current parliamentary session, and as such urged ketum growers to immediately switch to other crops before the law comes into force.
He said the meeting with the 32 farmers today yielded positive response, with most of them willing to give up the venture.
“However, they have concerns such as not knowing what to plant, seed supplies and on the cost of switching to other crops which I think can be discussed further,” he said.
Zulkifli also said that so far, the Ministry of Health has not issued any confirmation if ketum could be used for medical purposes or had health benefits.
The meeting, also attended by officials from the Department of Pharmacy, Land and Mines office and the Department of Agriculture, was held to help explain the government’s move and its recommendation for farmers to switch to other crops. - Bernama