Sarawak RM797mil allocation for agriculture equals entire Penang budget — CM

Abang Johari (seated centre) and the people of Simunjan raising their arms as they chanted 'Sayang Sarawak'. He is flanked by Uggah (left) and Dr Rundi. 

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By Karen Bong

SIMUNJAN, Jan 10: Sarawak government’s allocation of RM797 million for its agriculture sector is equivalent to the budget for the entire Penang state.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the huge allocation was taking into account that the state can play an important role in fulfilling and meeting the growing demand, needs and expectations for food worldwide.

In addition, RM200 million has been set aside for venture capital to help potential agropreneurs adopt technologies in expanding and growing their farms and produce, he added.

“Sarawak is blessed with good climate, good soil, availability of land and water resources. We should focus on developing our food industry and improve food security by adopting new technology in our agriculture process.

“Moreover, there are over three billion people living across Asia with 50 with China and India the most populous countries. This means that the global food market is huge,” he said at the Sarawak Multimedia Authority’s (SMA) Rindok Digital programme here today.

Abang Johari delivering his speech.

He added that Simunjan has the potential to produce “pisang kepok” and “pisang tanduk”, as well as coconuts, which were highly sourced by Peninsular Malaysia.

“I have approved RM500 million to build a seawall in Simunjan and Sibuyau to prevent erosion and stop salt water from adversely affecting agriculture here, so you can produce more bananas and coconuts,” he said.

Abang Johari urged farmers to grow, keep learning, embrace change and adapt their approaches to farming accordingly to move forward with time and technological advancement.

“Yesterday (in the past), we need to use ‘cangkul’ (hoe) but now we have IoT (Internet of Things) and drone that will help improve farming efforts and make farmers’ lives easier.

“With just your smartphone and apps, the process can be controlled, managed and monitored. For example, crops can be watered by setting the time without farmers having to go find a bucket to do so,” he said.

Farmers not only gained better control and management over the process of either raising livestock or growing crops but new approaches also help to produce better and larger yields not only for local consumption but the export market as well, he continued.

“As for marketing and trading, we can also rely on our smartphones to communicate and place orders, while payment can be done through Sarawak Pay, which has collaborated with Union Pay that is recognised worldwide including China and Singapore.

“There is no need to go through the hassle of issuing letter of credit from banks. Our smartphones and apps are all we need,” he said.

Suggesting that agriculture is the new source of wealth for Sarawak, Abang Johari said there were requests and demand from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for the state to produce more crops, as well as places like Shanghai for chips and Singapore for “terung asam” and tilapia fish.

“There is already market demand for our products and more importantly, we have an office in Singapore (Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office Singapore) as the hub for you to expand and reach the overseas market.

“This is our future through digital economy. We have to embrace change according to the changing times. I know our present and future generations can adopt to change. We can educate our people as we have many talents,” he continued.

Abang Johari also announced RM500,000 to replace the collapsed jetty of SK Kampung Tengelam.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Utilities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom and SMA general manager Dr Zaidi Razak were present. — DayakDaily