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By Lian Cheng
KUCHING, Nov 30: Sarawak is allocating RM22 million to expand the production of durian, pineapples, coconuts, bananas and high-value vegetables due to high global and domestic market demands.
Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Minister Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said to date, 250 hectares of durian, 330 hectares of banana, 40 hectares of pineapples and 750 hectares of coconut have been established.
To further increase the production areas for these promoted crops, the ministry is actively pursuing the development of agroparks.
An agropark is a designated area of intensive, contiguous land developed and sub-divided into plots for permanent agricultural production. The park will be equipped with basic infrastructure and utilities for use by an anchor company, group of farmers and agro-entrepreneurs that integrate all facets of the value chain.
“An agency under my Ministry will be appointed as a Special Purpose Vehicle based on the framework of a tripartite partnership involving the Government, the farmers and the investor who will also act as the marketing entity,” said Dr Rundi while delivering his winding up speech at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly Building (DUN) today.
To date, three agropark projects, namely Sungai Baji and Parit Bugis in Sarikei Division and Asajaya in Samarahan Division are being developed and are in various stages of implementation, he said.
In 2023, an allocation of RM14.8 million will be provided to complete the farming facilities at Sungai Baji Agropark and for the preliminary works at Parit Bugis and Asajaya Agropark.
The ministry has also been allocated a sum of RM3.3 million in 2023 to develop three new areas namely, Bebuling and Lubok Tamang in Betong Division and Simanggang in Sri Aman Division.
“In addition, my ministry has also identified four potential areas namely, Lubok Ipoi, Lubok Trenggas and Gedong-Semalatong in Samarahan Division and at Mulu, Miri Division,” said Dr Rundi.
Meanwhile, he said, the development of agriculture infrastructure in the Food Basket region which covers Betong, Sarikei and Mukah Division are being implemented in various stages by Drainage and irrigation Department (DID) Sarawak.
As of October 2022, out of 12 projects that have been implemented, three have been completed while another three are in construction stage and six are still in design stage.
In addition, to increase the agrofood production area, a sum of RM30 million has also been approved for the Proposed Development of Drainage and Irrigation Infrastructure at Sungai Ilas/Sebena (Block A3) in Sarikei Division.
An initial allocation of RM800,000 will be disbursed in 2023.
Apart from the above-mentioned project, the Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Ministry is also actively expanding the designated food production zone.
He said the three new locations are the expansion of Kubong Phase 2 in Limbang, Sg. Sebiew in Bintulu, and Tunoh in Kapit. The estimated area of the three sites is 50 hectares which is expected to be participated by more than 20 farmers.
On precision farming, the Ministry has identified three sites to be developed as Precision Farming Parks involving three divisions in Sarawak, namely Kuching, Bintulu and Miri.
“For this purpose, the Government has allocated a total sum of RM90 million and the project is expected to commence in 2023 with an allocation of RM21 million.
“This programme is also expected to attract greater youth and private sector involvement,” said Dr Rundi. — DayakDaily