Sarawak eyes technology transfer for better agricultural yields, food security

Abang Johari (centre, blue suit) listens to a briefing on technology-driven smart farming.

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By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Dec 19: Technology transfer in the agriculture sector is vital to increase productivity and enhance food security in Sarawak.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the state, embarking on its digital economy agenda and Industrial Revolution 4.0, needs to incorporate drone technology, artificial intelligence and big data to promote modern, precision farming and ensure food productivity is sustainable for both domestic and global market.

He gave a reminder that Sarawak, despite its huge land mass, has a small population of 2.8 million and this has restricted the state’s economic drive. Hence, Sarawak must look into the export market especially in food production, which has become a global issue.

“Farmers must embrace technology and we have to find ways to integrate technology into our agriculture development.

“We have to increase food production, which can be done through technological research and transfering this knowledge to our farmers and food producers.

“Digital technology will help transform our economy,” he said when opening the International Conference on Computer and Drone Applications (IConDA) at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) here today.

Abang Johari added that Sarawak would need US$800 million in food production for the Asian market. There is big economic potential in food production considering that China and India’s market alone could reach US$3 billion in 2050, he continued.

He said the digital economy today is worth US$3 trillion, with US$1.2 billion in Asia.

“In agriculture, AI (artificial intelligence) and drone technology (sensors) will help farmers to manage their farming. Drones can also help with data gathering, where input will be crucial to analyse productivity using big data.

“Technology will strengthen precision farming and help farmers to schedule watering and fertilising, analyse types of fertilisers and even manage humidity. All these data, activities need to be compiled to produce better yields,” he said.

Abang Johari also found it ironic that Singapore, despite its small land mass, is ranked No. 1 in food security, while Malaysia is ranked 10.

In this regards, he emphasised the importance of embracing technology to strengthen food security in Sarawak.

Touching on the conference, Abang Johari expressed hope that UiTM will play a crucial role in technology transfers to local farmers, especially in the campus’ vicinity in Samarahan.

“With our coastal road development and the setting up of the Samarahan Integrated Development Agency, these will help UiTM to promote technology and modern farming to the local community,” he continued.

Themed “Technological Convergence for Digital Economy Advancement”, IConDA 2019 attracted over 200 local and international participants. — DayakDaily