RM6m boost for buffalo rearing industry in Limbang

Uggah taking a sip of the traditional Bisaya `Ai pengasih’ at the function. Joining him are Paulus (right) and Antonio. Watching them are Henry, Dr Abdul Rahman and Adrian.

BATU DANAU, June 8: The Sarawak government has approved a RM6 million grant to further develop the buffalo rearing industry in Limbang division.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas announced the good news at the 16th Babalung and Buffalo Racing Festival, here, today.

Uggah, who is also Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, represented Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at the function.

Limbang Division is traditionally the state’s main producer of buffaloes. In 2000, it boasts of having more than 12,000 heads of buffalo, but it dwindled to a mere 5,500 currently.

“Abang Johari wants the population to increase. We will do this stage by stage,” Uggah said in a statement today.

The grand plan is to start by creating grazing grounds within the next two years and also repair the fences of the community paddocks. After that, the breeding stock will be brought in, and modern technology deployed to ensure better birth rate.

Uggah told those present that he was in Darwin, Australia, early this year to look at the potential breeding stock, among others.

“I was very impressed with what I saw. Some of the male buffaloes there were 800kg in weight, compared to our biggest at 350kg. We will bring some to the state so that we can produce these huge buffaloes,” he said.

Buffaloes have always been synonymous with the livelihood, culture and tradition of the Bisaya people in Limbang division and the Orang Ulus in Bario. Hence, the government wants the buffalo-rearing sector to be a major economic activity in the northern region development plan.

Uggah presenting the prize to a young winner of the buffalo race.

Meanwhile, Uggah reiterated his call on the people to pursue modern agriculture, where vegetables and fruits like durian, pineapple, banana, maize and coffee have great growth potential.

“We plan to set up a collecting, processing and packaging centre (CPPC) to buy these products from farmers. There must be volume for this to work,” he elaborated.

On the durian tree maintenance programme, Uggah approved an additional RM1 million for Limbang and Lawas districts after Batu Danau assemblyman Paulus Gumbang requested for more funds.

Uggah said besides the `musang king’ variety, some local species had great potential as export materials, too.

Uggah also advised the Bisaya community to work closely with the government in transforming the outback of Limbang for their own benefit.

He also announced a grant of RM200,000 from the Chief Minister plus his own grant of RM30,000 to the organiser of the annual festival.

In his speech, Sarawak Bisaya Association president Antonio Kathi Galis said the Babalung Festival was held after the harvest season, and buffalo racing represented the highlight of the 10-day celebration, which also featured sports and cultural activities.

Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, Lawas MP Datuk Henry Sum Agong, Paulus and state Department of Veterinary Services director Dr Adrian Susin Ambud were among those present at the function. — DayakDaily