By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Oct 3: The first 12 tonnes of premium Batang Ai red tilapia fish by Borneo Eco Fish Sdn Bhd are on its way to Singapore, marking a giant step forward in the food export industry for Sarawak.
Minister of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said this achievement is a positive indicator of the progress, growth and change in the agriculture sector of Sarawak.
“Our objective and target is to make Sarawak a net exporter by 2030,” he told reporters after launching the export of Batang Ai red tilapia fish to Singapore at Sea Horse Corporation in Bintawa, here, today.
He said the agriculture sector and industries are adopting modern technology not only in farming but across the supply chain operations.
“Today, we are here at the collecting and processing centre of a private sector (Sea Horse). In the storage room, 300 tonnes of seafood products are packaged and stored inside,” he said.
“This is the kind of facility we intend to set up in certain parts of Sarawak, not so much for fish but for fruits,” he disclosed.
The deputy chief minister thus called upon all Sarawakians to rise to the call of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg by getting involved and transitioning into precision agriculture towards the objective of making Sarawak a net exporter.
Sharing his working visit experience to New Zealand recently, he pointed out that half of Sarawak’s land area is about one quarter of New Zealand which has a population of five million.
“They (New Zealand) are producing food for 40 million, meaning they are supporting food consumption for 35 million. That’s our direction.
“Our current net import is 3.8 billion for 2018 and we have identified the various crops and products which can be produced in Sarawak,” he said.
Uggah expressed confidence in leading Sarawak into that direction, especially with the state government giving priority in the development of the agriculture sector for the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).
He assured that his ministry is working on a mechanism to support including setting up of venture capital, technical devices and later on a centre of excellence as a model which can be duplicated throughout Sarawak.
On the tilapia fish export, he highlighted that the trade deal was the product of the establishment of Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office in Singapore (Statos), which was launched in mid August this year.
During the launching ceremony of Statos, Borneo Eco Fish managed to strike a deal with Sheng Siong Group, which is the third largest supermarkets chain in Singapore with 57 stores across the island currently.
The export shipment also comprised several tonnes of tiger prawns from Sea Horse Corporation.
Assistant Minister of Regional Development Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn, Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, state Agriculture acting director Dr Alvin Chai, Borneo Eco Fish director Dato Affandi Tahir and its managing director Thomas Hii and Sea Horse director Lee Choon Kheng were present. — DayakDaily