BETONG, Dec 16: The Spaoh airport also known as the Bebuling STOLport (short take-off and landing airport) in Bebuling, Spaoh near here is expected to materialise within five years from now.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the Department of Civil Aviation would need time to make the necessary arrangements for it to be operational in addition to its actual construction period.
He said this at a town hall session themed “Today For Tomorrow” with over 1,200 youths at the Stephen Kalong Ningkan Hall here yesterday.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Assistant Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Snowdan Lawan, Betong Member of Parliament (MP) Datuk Robert Lawson Chuat and Petra Jaya MP Datuk Fadillah Yusof were among those present.
Also present were assemblymen Razaili Gapor (Beting Maro), Mohammad Razi Sitam (Saribas) and Allan Siden (Machan). Layar assemblyman Gerald Rentap Jabu was the session moderator.
The airport will cost the state government a sum of RM108 million.
Abang Johari said with Sri Aman, Betong and part of Sarikei Divisions having huge potential in agriculture and being turned into state food basket areas, the airport was a logistical necessity for fresh farm products to reach market soonest.
“But we must approach the food basket development along modern agriculture using, for example, the Internet of Things (IoT), fertigation systems and others.
“And modern agriculture is the base to strengthen our economy. We have the comparative advantage as we have plenty of land,” he said.
Elaborating, he said the state would also set up more Agro parks to assist landless farmers and more collecting, processing and packaging centres (CPPCs) besides providing relevant training for the youth.
“We are now developing new Agro parks in Mukah, Sri Aman and Betong. We also want our people, especially the youth to go into the sector.
“We will use the new approach within the next two years. We have clear policies to help them but we must prepare existing farmers to accept modern technology,” he said.
Abang Johari said Uggah who is also Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister too was now trying to convince the people that the agriculture sector was one that could generate good income with the state aiming to be a net exporter of food and food products by 2030.
The chief minister also revealed his government would improve road networks to open up new areas for agriculture and to reach out to new markets.
“This is why we want to build the coastal trunk road in addition to the Pan Borneo Highway.”
Uggah who spoke later thanked Abang Johari for allocating RM20 million to help fishermen buy new equipment.
The amount is in addition to federal government aid for them during the monsoon season, he disclosed.
He also thanked the chief minister for approving RM5.2 million to build a new innovation centre here.
On the modern agriculture concept, Uggah said there were now two model fertigation farms with rain covers at Simpang Layar and SMK Spaoh to show the public how the system worked and its advantages.
“We are waiting as well for the state government’s decision on setting up an Agro park in Debak.
“Given the many projects coming our way I hope the people will remain united and give their fullest support to the state government,” he said. — DayakDaily