BELADIN, Dec 29: Plans are afoot to mechanise the processing of gula apong or nipah palm sugar in Beting Maro to improve its quality, accentuate its nutritional values, package it nicely and rebrand it as “Nipah Honey” in liquid form.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the state government had allocated RM2 million to set up its industrial area.
He said the product was reputed to be the best in the country and is diabetic friendly, but it is still traditionally processed currently.
“With modern inputs, we can raise the quality and boost its demand and sales nationwide,” he said when closing the Beting Maro Food Festival 2018 here today.
Uggah told those present that gula apong was among the products of great commercial potential in the area.
He added that Beting Maro, situated at the Sadok agropolitan area between Sarikei and Betong, also had tremendous potential for large-scale cultivation of numerous types of fruits and vegetables.
Uggah, who is also Minister of the Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, said it was the state government’s vision and intention to introduce modern precision farming into the agropolitan and other suitable areas statewide.
“Precision farming for commercial purpose will be more efficient, less labour intensive but will yield greater productivity and returns. We will use modern technologies to efficiently manage and monitor the operations.”
Uggah said for next year, his ministry had been given a budget of RM355 million to modernise farming in the rural areas.
“Of course, this will include bringing in more or upgrading infrastructures like roads, drainage system, setting up food parks as well as processing and collecting centres. The relevant training and planting materials will be provided.”
Uggah said Sarawak would link up with reputed anchor companies to buy products from the farmers and market them to the outside world.
He also reminded the people that it was Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s vision for the state to be a net exporter of food by 2030. By then, the agriculture sector would be a new source of wealth for the state.
He later announced a grant of RM1million ringgit as subsidy next year for farmers and breeders in Beting Maro state constituency.
Meanwhile, Uggah, who is in charge of the State Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) also announced a grant of RM500,000 for the SK Mutun chapel and RM200,000 each for the Mutun Asal and Beluh chapels respectively.
He called on the people to continue to give their fullest support to the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)-led government under Abang Johari for his “Sarawak First” policy and his unrelenting pursuit of the eroded Sarawak’s rights under the Malaysian Agreement 1963 (MA63).
Abang Johari, added Uggah, had often said only local leaders could better understand local situations, problems and the people’s aspirations.
As such, Uggah said they would be more enthusiastic and committed in serving and delivering services to the people.
He also called on them to continue supporting Beting Maro assemblyman Razaili Gapur, whom he described as a visionary, committed and non-confrontational leader.
“The fact that he has come up with a master plan for Beting Maro’s overall development speaks volume of his quality of leadership, ” he said.
Earlier in his speech, Razaili said the area was currently developing large-scale cultivation of coconut and pineapple.
“We aspire to become the state’s largest producer of these two crops in the coming years. We further aspire to develop our gula apong industry and the kelulut honey production. And we certainly need and appreciate assistance and guidance from Uggah’s ministry,” he said.
Razaili also mentioned to Uggah that the incursion of seawater into the planting sites was among the area’s biggest concerns. — DayakDaily