In 2005 the government of Malaysia launched the Tobacco Industry Restructuring Plan (RPSIT), which aimed to meet Malaysia’s commitment to the FCTC and to anticipate the negative impact expected from the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement.

It focused on kenaf (lat. hibiscus cannabinus) as an alternative for tobacco growers. The government aimed to make the crop the third most important contributor to the national economy after rubber and palm oil by 2020. More than 15 million euros (65 million Malaysian ringgit) have been invested in research and development of the industry as a whole, from crop to final product.

The plant can be used to make paper, building material, bio-plastics or even animal fodder.

Tobacco growers willing to switch to kenaf have been provided with cash incentives of 554 euros (2,300 Malaysian ringgit) per hectare as well as seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and training.

The National Kenaf and Tobacco Board (LKTN) has been responsible for promoting the new crop among tobacco growers.

Read here our case study Kenaf in Malaysia.