Enhancing domestic agriculture through agroparks and modern farming technology

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Sept 27: Sarawak government is taking urgent steps to enhance and improve food security and food supply exports provided by domestic agriculture through establishing agroparks and adopting modern farming technology.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised that the state government will be developing agroparks, which has a concept to industrial parks, to enable farmers and agropreneurs to have access to land to develop with agriculture.

“The agroparks can be divided into plots for entrepreneurs to lease so that they can have land to develop.

“We won’t be giving out titles for the land but it will for leased for, say 20 to 25 years, for which they can use to apply and get a bank loan for capital,” he said in response to a question from young agropreneur Keelan Woon at ‘A Sunday Morning with CM: Dialogue Session with Young Entrepreneurs in Sarawak’ at a hotel here today.

He reiterated that the state government will no longer issue licences for oil palm plantation, pledging to continue with the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem’s policy but smallholders with native customary rights (NCR) land may utilise their land for that purpose if they choose to.

Earlier, Woon acknowledged that the state government has a very exciting vision to turn Sarawak into a net exporter of food products by 2030.

However, he pointed out that the current policies left many young entrepreneurs on the sidelines in this venture especially to secure land to develop as a large proportion of land is of Native Customary Rights (NCR) status.

Abang Johari then emphasised that the state government has identified areas in Sarikei, Bintulu and Kota Samarahan to be developed as agroparks.

“Food security is important for the whole region. That’s why I have allocated quite an enormous sum of RM700 million in the current budget for agriculture development and RM200 million for seed capital,” he said.

More importantly, Abang Johari emphasised, the agroparks will be equipped with fundamental infrastructure such as soil and drainage as well as digital infrastructure to enable efficiency.

As the coastal road is being developed, the land along the way which is suitable for crop plantations will also be more accessible, he pointed out.

“Furthermore, it will cut the cost of transportation when areas have been connected with roads,” he added.

Woon highlighting issues faced by young entrepreneurs attempting to venture into agriculture.

Even as the state government is pushing to increase food production and supply through domestic agriculture, Abang Johari stressed on the need for domestic food producers to have better access to both domestic and international markets.

“That’s why the Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office Singapore (Statos) was established to facilitate our access and penetration into the market.

“With Statos, we have to and can increase our food export to Singapore and beyond,” he said, adding that Sarawak is exporting tilapia and silver ‘patin’ to the country.

Meanwhile, ‘A Sunday Morning with CM: Dialogue Session with Young Entrepreneurs in Sarawak’ was an event organised by DayakDaily and Kuching Freelance Journalists Association (Pewarta) to provide an avenue for professional and young Sarawakian entrepreneurs from various sectors to engage with the chief minister and raised issues that mattered in order to steer Sarawak to greater heights.

The Dialogue was moderated by DayakDaily’s senior writer Peter Sibon and entrepreneur Nigel Wee. DayakDaily editor-in-chief Lian Cheng was among those present. — DayakDaily