Engage in agriculture, massive market demand in Singapore — Abg Jo

Abang Johari (front row, fifth right) at the Sarikei Community Dinner, where the organisers take the opportunity to celebrate his 69th birthday.

SARIKEI, Aug 30: Sarawak’s agricultural produce is of great demand in Singapore as shown by the fact that within half a day of exhibition in the Island Republic, Sarawak managed to sell RM10 million worth of agriculture products.

As such, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has encouraged more agriculture development in districts of Sarikei, Meradong, Julau, Pakan and Belawai.

“In terms of agricultural development, districts of Sarikei, Meradong, Julau, Pakan and Belawai or the so called hinterland, has the agriculture produce, which can further be processed (in Singapore),” he said.

Acknowledging that much improvement was still needed in terms of infrastructure, he said the government will strengthen what needed to be done, so that the people of these districts may be able to export their agriculture produce and products.

“We have set up an office at Robinson Road of Singapore for our local farmers to sell their produce to Singapore, and from Singapore, to other parts of the world.

“Only half a day exhibition and we have sold Sarawak’s produce worth RM10 million,” said Abang Johari at a community dinner held at Sarikei Innovation Centre this evening.

He said Singapore has been most willing to buy Sarawak’s agricultural produce, where they will process for Singapore, as well as other international markets.

If the locals are to be able to be involved in agriculture activities, where there is a ready market, the chief minister believed they could raise their standards of living.

Politically, he said Sarawak, after leaving Barisan Nasional, could now come up with its own development road map, except that Sarawak government needed to raise fund for these development.

Abang Johari said whatever funds he raised have been distributed among the regions, which have high potential to be developed. Districts of Sarikei, Meradong, Julau, Pakan and Belawai, which are under Recoda (Regional Corridor Development Authority), have been identified as one of the regions.

Meanwhile, Abang Johari questioned the methodology of measuring poverty by some quarters as Sarawak has been classified as one of the poorest states in Malaysia.

Talking about absolute poverty, he said the term meant a person has totally zero asset, which was not applicable to Sarawakians, as they have land.

“In the rural areas, you still got land and that is asset.”

He said income for rural people was still not high because they have failed to monetise the land asset and the reason for them to fail to monetise their land was due to the lack of knowledge.

“So what do we do? We strengthen our education. Once they have the knowledge, they can transform or monetise their asset,” said Abang Johari. — DayakDaily