By Nur Ashikin Louis
KUCHING, Feb 25: The Department of Agriculture (DOA) Sarawak has been urged to channel specific assistance according to the needs of each farmer and fisherman instead of giving a general subsidy.
Minister for Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said this is because the government assistance channeled to the smallholders may not be relevant to them.
“When the farmers or fishermen are given a subsidy, such as for fertiliser, most of the time the assistance is not 100 per cent needed by them since not all of them are doing the same agricultural activities.
“Therefore, it is high time for the authorities to collect the data from the smallholders on their needs so that the former can give assistance which is relevant,” he said during his work visit to Semongok Agricultural Research Centre today.
Dr Rundi elaborated that smallholders in the oil palm sector for instance, they are in need to improve the road to their plantation and fertiliser and only then will such assistance become meaningful and relevant to improve their agricultural activities.
“If we give similar assistance to other farmers who are not doing the same activities, then the assistance will not benefit them and it becomes a waste.
“Anything we do, it has to be appropriate and matches the needs of those we intend to help. Fishermen or aquaculture, they need other specific assistance to meet their needs,” he added.
He further mentioned that the data collection is not difficult for the DOA since there were already requests submitted from the smallholders.
Apart from that, Dr Rundi took note that the areas from Semongok to Tarat would be the first test bed project in Sarawak in undertaking modern agriculture activities.
However, to ensure the success of transforming the agricultural industry in Sarawak, he reminded the DOA to further expand awareness on this effort to the agricultural industry players across the State.
Also present were assistant ministers for Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail and Martin Ben. — DayakDaily