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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Nov 23: Sarawak Forestry Department will put emphasis on the Forest Restoration Programme as many local communities are using non-timber products in their daily lives.
Its director, Hamden Mohammad, said that due to the importance of non-timber forest products (NTFP), his office had been encouraging rural folk to collaborate with private firms to develop their native customary rights (NCR) land by planting trees of fast-growing but high-value species.
“With the implementation of these projects later, it will reduce the exploration of natural forests by locals to obtain raw materials for their daily needs,” he said at the opening ceremony of the Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP) Carnival 2018 at Kuching Waterfront here yesterday.
He noted that the raw materials were not just used as food sources but also for medicine, for ritual and custom purposes, for building houses and so forth.
“Five days ago, I led an entourage to visit Rumah Panjang Josephine Entira at Kaki Wong Mapar in Saratok. They have been collaborating with Syarikat Kaki Wong Forest Plantation Sdn Bhd to develop their NCR land by planting fast-growing and high-value tree species.
“In addition to profitability in the future, these villagers will benefit from this initiative,” he added.
As the department is encouraging the Tree Planting Programme, Hamden revealed that some nurseries had been re-developed, such as at the Sabal National park and in Jalan Oya Sibu, to ensure sufficient supply of local tree seedlings.
“So far, more than 50,000 tree seedlings of various species, including ‘gaharu’, have been cultivated and distributed to needy local communities, local authorities and corporate bodies for the success of this tree planting campaign,” he said.
The department, he emphasised, had carried out various transformation programmes for the forestry sector in tandem with the state government’s emphasis on sustainable forest management.
“Based on the government’s forestry policy, the programme includes strengthening forest management through the concept of Forests Beyond Timber. Through this concept, forest management in Sarawak is not only focused on forestry-related operations but also community development and NTFP,” he added.
On the carnival, which is into its third edition, Hamden said it was opened to communities in and outside the Heart of Borneo (HoB), including from Indonesia as well as the community in the coastal areas of Sarawak due to overwhelming responses and increasing applications for participation since it started in 2016.
With 40 booths erected for traders to promote and market their products, he hoped small-scale entrepreneurs could have better opportunity and exposure to push their products beyond Sarawak, including to countries like Indonesia and Brunei.
“Themed ‘Building Partnership to Promote NTFP’, we hope this carnival can be the best avenue for all to build a network and collaborate in promoting and marketing respective products more aggressively and globally,” he said.
The five-day carnival that started yesterday features not only the exhibition and sale of products but also various exciting contests, activities and performances, including knowledge-sharing sessions, The Voice NTFP 2018, health-related activities, lucky draws, colouring for kids and a musical night.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan represented Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Open to officiate at the opening ceremony.
Assistant Minister of Entrepreneur and Small, Medium Enterprise (SME) Development Datuk Mohd Naroden Majais and Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh were also present. — DayakDaily