MATU, Sept 11: The state food basket area stretching from Betong to Sarikei divisions will now include the Mukah division.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas emphasised that the food basket area in Sarawak will now cover Betong until Jemoreng.
“Mukah has great potential for marine products and agro-industry in which we are eyeing large scale banana, pineapple, coconut and other food crops cultivation and processing.
“These are for export as we target to be a net food and food product exporter by 2030. We have already had a good start as we are already exporting many food products to a number of overseas countries,” he said after declaring open the RM3 million Tekajong Agriculture Station here today.
Uggah, who is also Minister of Agriculture Modernisation, Native land and Regional Development, informed that an initial sum of RM187 million had been set aside to develop the necessary infrastructure as well as drainage and irrigation system.
On the new station, he called on officers of the department not to be reluctant or afraid of acquiring modern technologies.
“Your duties are to help transform the sector into a modern one. Gone are the days when your roles are about distributing subsidies or fertilisers and others.
“Acquire modern knowledge like the new farming method of fertigation, hydroponics, usage of the IoT (Internet of Things) and others and spread them among the farmers,” he urged.
These innovative methods, he pointed out, can yield much more harvests and farmers can certainly earn better income.
“So when our state transforms into a high income society by 2030, our rural folks will not (be) left behind,” he said.
Uggah added all new agriculture stations should also act as incubators for farmers where they could learn some food processing and modern packaging standards.
He also emphasised that all new stations should have ample space where officers can organise demonstration plots for fertigation and hydroponic farming.
Speaking to the media later, Uggah said the government was still in the process of identifying successful buyers for the 300 units of the three bedrooms (plus two washrooms) houses at Semop Rural Growth Centre.
Each unit costs RM75,000 and is only for registered fishermen in the area. The government had spent RM23.5 million on the project.
On the Bruit Area Fishermen Association, he described it as one of the more successful such associations in the state.
“Because of good and honest management, it now has assets worth RM2.3 million. I hope other fishermen associations can emulate its success,” he said.
Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Corporate Affairs and Sarawak Public Communication Unit) Abdullah Saidol said Uggah’s visit was to see how the fishermen and farmers had contributed to Bruit’s economic development.
“We hope in justifying their roles, he can provide us with more funds and grants to bring in other needed infrastructures and facilities for them to move further forward,” he added.
Tanjung Manis MP Yusuf Wahap and Permanent Secretary to Manred Edwin Abit were present.—DayakDaily