By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Sept 30: Sarawak needs RM1.5 billion to develop the basic infrastructure for 14 new areas designated as Food Basket Development Areas in the divisions of Betong, Sarikei and Mukah with a total area of 40,555 hectares.
Betong MP Datuk Robert Lawson Chuat said studies conducted have shown that these areas have great potential to be developed for the production of food such as paddy and fruits such as pineapples and bananas for export.
“For this purpose, the State of Sarawak needs an allocation of RM1.5 billion to develop basic infrastructure such as irrigation systems, drainage and access roads. Hopefully, due consideration can be given under the implementation of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP),” he highlighted when debating the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) in Parliament today.
Lawson also pointed out that additional allocation is also needed to help Sarawak in developing nine Precision Farming Parks throughout Sarawak to increase agro-food crops production and attract more youths to venture into the agriculture sector.
“The State government has approved allocation for three out of the nine parks. As such, the federal government needs to help by giving more allocations to develop the parks and equipping them with the latest technology under 12MP.
“It is estimated that the cost to develop one park is at about RM25 million,” he said.
Sarawak, he added, with its vast land resources has the potential to become the main food hub of the country and to achieve this, commitment, attention and support from the federal government especially through financial allocation is much needed to enhance the ability and efficiency of the agriculture sector.
Lawson hoped the federal government can provide substantial allocation for Sarawak to spur development in the agriculture sector which has been identified as one of the six main drivers of the State’s economy under Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030.
With Sarawak putting focus on commercial farming and agro commodities, he elaborated the aim is to create a technology-driven and sustainable agriculture sector that will ensure food security and safety, create wealth for the agro-based community and establish Sarawak as a net food exporter by 2030. — DayakDaily