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By Ling Hui
KUCHING, June 24: “Don’t look down on ‘paku’ and ‘midin’ (jungle ferns), make money out of them,” says Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.
He said paku and midin used to be seen as a cheap vegetable dish, served only in poor families. The table however has turned as midin is now recognised as a prized cash crop sought after by other countries.
“Two days ago, I was at Sungai Kut in Dalat. I saw paku everywhere, naturally-grown paku, waiting to be picked and collected. But not a single person was harvesting it. People stepped on them.
“It is God’s gift, but then we don’t realise (the potential). They cut all the paku and plant pineapples. Over a certain period, paku overgrows the pineapples, and still paku is not touched,” he said.
Dr Rundi also pointed out that these ferns grow naturally in abundance in Sarawak, without the need of cultivation, thus making it easily available.
Unlike oil palm that requires extensive work to plant and harvest, he said, minimal work is required to profit from these Sarawak ferns.
“All you have to do is just cut the grass, then you pray for the rain. The next day, God will give you midin. You pick them, and the following day, you get another batch.
“You don’t even have to plant them, like oil palm. You need to work super hard to get oil palm,” he said when officiating the Mardi Agroinvest 2022 program at a local hotel here today.
Meanwhile, Dr Rundi also shared a childhood memory in which he used to play with ‘terung asam’ or ‘terung Dayak’ (sour eggplants) without realising their worth.
“Last time when I was young, I used to kick the ‘terung asam’. I didn’t know the ‘terung asam’ is money,” he said.
He thus urged Sarawakians to see and develop the agricultural potentials of their own backyards, not just copying others.
“Sarawakians must have the ability to recognise the gems that are unique in Sarawak and explore that opportunity,” he added.
Also present at the event were Malaysian Agriculture Research and Development Institution (Mardi) director Dato Dr Mohamad Zabawi Abdul Ghani and Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development permanent secretary Datu Edwin Abit. — Dayakdaily