Sarawak govt sets aside RM2.3 mln to help farmers and fishermen generate income

Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail

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KUCHING, April 13: The Sarawak government has set aside a total of RM2.3 million to assist farmers and fishermen in Sarawak.

Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail in a statement revealed the assistance is meant to relieve the financial burden faced by farmers and fishermen in terms of marketing issues and ensuring that they have constant flow of income.

For the farmers, a total of RM1.7 million has been set aside.

Under the special programme, Dr Abdul Rahman said the Sarawak government through the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (Manred), in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture (DOA) Sarawak, the 28 Area Farmers’ Organisations (AFOs) and the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority (Fama), is buying excess produce from farmers who could not sell them to the market.

He noted the role of AFOs and Fama is as wholesalers and suppliers of excess farm produce to the market.

Dr Abdul Rahman also revealed that the AFOs have been proactive in fulfiling their role in sorting out supply-demand issues between divisions.

For example, he noted, when there was a shortage of farm produce in Bintulu recently, AFOs based in Sarikei and Miri were quick to link to Bintulu and channel excess farm produce to Bintulu.

He explained that any situation will create a chain reaction in nearby divisions and it is vital to ensure that the food supply-demand ecosystem is balanced.

As of April 11, a total of 39 tonnes of fruits and vegetables worth RM90,000 have been bought from more than 30 farmers statewide.

Dr Abdul Rahman revealed that feedback from farmers and wholesalers on the implementation has been positive.

He also highlighted the “Jualan Terus Dari Ladang” (Sales Direct From Farm) initiative, which is a collaborative effort between AFOs and Fama.

The initiative involves the buyback of fruits and vegetables by AFOs, while Fama will provide sales facilities at the predetermined strategic sites to facilitate sales activities between the public and wholesalers.

The sales facilities will also include a business matching venue to link farmers to wholesalers.

Dr Abdul Rahman disclosed the first “Jualan Terus Dari Ladang” is scheduled to begin tomorrow involving Subis AFO and Fama Miri at Kompleks Islam Sarawak, Miri.

Meanwhile, he also revealed that the state government is looking to collaborate with the private sector on online marketing and home delivery services.

The Sarawak government will facilitate the online business sector, with AFOs being the suppliers of farm produce to online platform providers who will assist in terms of marketing and delivery of the produce.

On the production side of the sector, he noted the Sarawak government will encourage farmers throughout Sarawak to continue planting through various schemes from various government agencies to ensure that the food supply chain is not disrupted from farm production all the way to last-mile services to consumers.

On the special assistance to fishermen, Dr Abdul Rahman explained that the state government through Manred, in collaboration with the Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) and Area Fishermen’s Associations (PNKs) has set aside a sum of RM600,000 to implement a similar buyback programme to assist fishermen in marketing their catches.

He revealed PNKs will serve as wholesalers and buy catches from fishermen and do marketing and deliveries to fulfil online orders, as well as bulk selling from mobile lorries (“Fish on Wheels” concept).

As of yesterday, a total of 485kg of fish worth RM6,300 has been bought from members of five PNKs statewide. — DayakDaily