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By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Dec 3: The Sarawak government is planning to set up smart farming parks at selected agriculture stations throughout Sarawak.
Following the success of smart farming in the Permanent Food Production Park (PFP) Rampangi which is the first smart farm to adopt Internet of Things (IoT) technology in Sarawak, plans are ongoing to build similar parks at the Layar Agriculture Station (Betong), Sungai Sebiew Agriculture Station (Bintulu) and Kabuloh Agriculture Station (Miri).
The establishment of these smart farming parks will provide more opportunities for younger agropreneurs to venture into modern farming that would boost the production of high value vegetables and fruits.
“It will also contribute towards increasing the domestic supply of these commodities and eventually for export markets thereby increasing the agricultural contribution to the State Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” the Sarawak government disclosed in a written reply.
The written reply was in response to unanswered questions posed to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at the “A Sunday Morning with CM: Dialogue Session with Young Entrepreneurs in Sarawak” event organised by DayakDaily on Sept 28 this year.
Due to the constraints of time which caused many questions to be left unanswered, DayakDaily forwarded these questions to the relevant authorities who came back with the answers recently.
The Sarawak government stressed that in its efforts to transform the agriculture sector, it had introduced new business development models and approaches such as setting up PFPs and agroparks, while at the same time, is trying hard to change the mindset of agricultural producers, in particular smallholders.
“Essentially, the new business models would harness the financial resources and business acumen of private sector investors and leverage their management and technical expertise. The private sector possesses the latest technology, huge capital, management skills and global market access for agricultural produce and products which is vital to drive the commercialisation of agriculture.
“The skills and knowledge of smallholders who participate in such ventures will be enhanced in parallel to the private sector’s participation in a commercial-led agro-business venture,” the Sarawak government emphasised.
On a related note, the state government will give the private sector a bigger role in developing and managing the agriculture sector to ensure commercial viability and to reduce the state government’s financial burden.
On agroparks, the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (Manred) explained that this initiative is aimed at boosting food production and providing greater opportunities for investors which in turn will support aspiring younger agropreneurs to venture into economic-scale farming.
The development of these agroparks will provide land for landless potential agropreneurs which will be divided into lots of economic size. The lots will be rented to genuine agropreneurs as participants to produce high value agriculture products using modern agriculture methods such as smart farming, digital technology and the use of the Internet to market their products.
The government will develop essential infrastructure and facilities in these parks including access roads, water and electricity supply, telecommunication, drainage and irrigation. Agropark participants who require financial assistance may apply for venture capital funding from Manred.
The first agropark built in Sarawak is at Sungai Baji, Sarikei, covering an area of about 500 acres.
Manred will soon establish a second agropark in Samarahan Division. To date, Manred has identified several sites in the food basket region for the establishment of more agroparks. These sites include Parit Bugis, Sarikei; Lubok Tamang, Debak; and Sungai Tisak, Simanggang. — DayakDaily