MANRED looking for new and best ways to boost food production

Uggah (sitting third right) in a group photo with officers at the brainstorming session.

LUNDU, Sept 14: The state government is working on plans to develop new areas or redevelop under-developed areas to further increase food production in order to achieving the vision of making Sarawak a net food exporter by 2030.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah informed that new plans and projects were being thought of, while others had been implemented or were being enhanced in efforts to make Sarawak a net exporter of food and food products through the agricultural sector by the year 2030.

He highlighted this after visiting a group of 48 senior officers from his Ministry of Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Development (MANRED) who were on a three-day brainstorming session to work out plans and projects for recommendation for the coming 12th Malaysia Plan (2021-2025) at SALCRA Bajo Training Centre here today.

“When we can achieve this, we can eradicate the remnant of rural poverty and reduce the income gap between our urban and rural areas as well,” he said.

“So we are looking at the products and land assets that we have. We are also trying to identify where are the available land that can be developed and those not properly developed,” he elaborated.

He shared that there were about 81,000 acres under the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) padi scheme not properly done.

“We are planning to develop new areas or redevelop these under-developed areas to increase food production as much as possible,” he emphasised.

At the same time, he added that the brainstorming session was to identify products where the state had competitive advantages in producing.

“So far we have livestock like swine and chicken as well as fruits like durian, coconut and pineapple. We want to have proposals how their production can be modernised in line with the digital economy objective,” he said.

Uggah pointed out that one of the areas that the ministry would also be looking at was how to spearhead precision farming, including the greater usage of internet of things (IoT).

Another key interest, he added, was how to encourage more young people to become agropreneurs through modern option such as the fertigation system.

“If one looks at the Rampangi Permanent Food Park, we have four engineers among those taking up the challenge and they are doing very well,” he said.

Earlier when speaking to the officers, he stressed that the state government had high expectations on the state agriculture industry to deliver.

“Thus there is a need for us to reinvent ourselves to be able to deliver as we still have a lot of potentials,” he said.

For the record, the state is aiming to produce RM6.445 billion worth of food and food products by 2025.

Last year, Sarawak imported some RM4.875 billion of cereal and cereal products, fruits and vegetables, animal feed and fish as well as other marine products.

Uggah also reiterated that the state hoped to reduce the deficit by 2030.

Permanent Secretary to the ministry Awang Johari Awang Mustapha, State Agriculture Department director Dr Alvin Chai and his deputy Ngap Dollah Salam, State Veterinary Services Department director Dr Adrian Susin and a political secretary to the chief minister Dr Richard Rapu were present.— DayakDaily