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By Chris Bishop and Karen Bong
KUCHING, Sept 25: University students pursuing programmes related to agriculture and the food industry in Sarawak will have the opportunity to be placed in agroparks upon graduation to serve as farm managers to oversee the development of food production.
Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said that Sarawak is currently developing agroparks of various sizes, such as in Sarikei and Kuching, which will become industrial parks once mass production commences.
“With seven more years for us (Sarawak) to achieve the ambition of becoming a net food exporter by 2030, I have entrusted our universities (with nurturing) students pursuing programmes related to food production.
“Upon graduation, if they are serious, we can place them in agroparks for them to produce food based on new and advanced technology,” he told a press conference after officiating at the 1st International Conference on Biotechnology, Smart Farming and Entrepreneurship for Food Security (BioSFE) 2023 at Riverside Majestic Hotel here today.
Abang Johari highlighted Sarawak’s investment in large-scale agroparks spanning over 10,000 acres in designated areas, which would be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to control humidity, temperature, and fertiliser input.
He emphasised that the graduates will become future experts and farm managers who can play a pivotal role in these agroparks.
However, he pointed out that these ambitious plans would require special funding which he intends to announce within two months’ time to assist and support food industry players in Sarawak.
“Singapore only uses buildings for cultivation. Smart farming can also be done even at home. I have also set up one in my house for hydroponic fertigation,” he said, of the potential for innovative and sustainable farming practices.
BioSFE 2023, a collaborative effort by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Sarawak branch, the Ministry of Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development (M-Ficord), and the National Chung Cheng University of Taiwan, brings together experts, researchers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers from around the world.
The event aims to foster collaboration, facilitate the exchange of ideas, and drive the evolution of the agriculture sector towards Agriculture Revolution 4.0.
M-Ficord Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Deputy Minister of Regional Development Martin Ben, Deputy State Secretary Datu Hii Chang Kee andRector of UiTM Sarawak branch Prof. Dato Dr Jamil Hamali, who is representing UiTM vice-chancellor Prof. Datuk Dr. Roziah Mohd Janor, were among those present. — DayakDaily.