Oil palm estates, smallholders can help boost beef supply — Uggah

Uggah (with orange cap) being briefed on the feed produced at the Melikin Estate.

SERIAN, Jan 26: Oil palm estates and individual smallholders can help Sarawak achieve its target of 50 per cent Self Sufficiency Level (SSL) in beef supply by 2030.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said this at the handing over of 81 head of breeder cattle to Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra) Melikin oil palm estate near here yesterday.

They are part of the 640, including 15 bulls, imported from Australia last month.

“Cattle rearing in oil palm estates can greatly increase total cattle production because the state has a huge area under the crop.

“With an estimated 1.5 million hectares of oil palm and an estimated 40 per cent or 600,000 hectares suitable for cattle rearing, we can rear up to 120,000 head (at a stocking rate of one animal per five hectares of oil palm),” he said in a statement today.

Uggah (with orange cap) giving his thumbs-up to Meilikin Estate.

Uggah said the state government would continue to assist by providing cattle on loan under the Cattle Pawah Programme (CPP).

He said under this initiative, breeder cattle would be distributed to the participating estates and smallholders, who would pay back to the government the matching number within a period of up to six years, which should consist of at least 50 per cent female.

The returned animals would then be redistributed to other estates or individuals and the circle would continue, he said.

“To-date, 44 estates and 14 smallholders have been assisted with a total of 11,511 head of breeder cattle consisting of 10,816 heifers and 695 bulls under the CPP.”

Uggah, who is the Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (MANRED) as well as Salcra chairman, said cattle rearing was another source of income for the estates beside helping them to make some savings.

He said the concept of rearing cattle in estates started with the animals being kept as natural grass mowers, but this has evolved into commercial rearing.

“In Salcra estates, it has been noted that its herd can reduce weeding cost by RM110 per hectare per year.”

In addition to reducing chemical usage and weeding time, he said it would maximise land use.

“Of course the animals can be sold too.”

On Salcra, Uggah said there were 10 oil palm plantations, covering a total of about 10,000 hectares, where 2,310 head of Australian Brahman are left to roam. It aimed to produce 4,275 of them by 2023.

He said Salcra had planned to set up modern breeding farms, where modern management and technology like artificial insemination would be the norm to increase productivity.

He said the agency would collaborate with the state Department of Veterinary Services on this.

In his briefing earlier, Salcra acting general manager Joseph Blandoi said the agency was on course to help MANRED livestock production programme and to meet the state beef SSL.

“We aim to produce 1,000 head of calves each year by 2021. We are now focussing on cattle rearing in our estates on the semi-intensive concept with breeding centres, feedlots and fieldlots.

“For cattle feed, we can use the palm kernel cake or palm kernel extract produced locally. The male calves can be fed on this to fatten them up so that they can reach market weight faster.” — DayakDaily