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SERIAN, Jan 22: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah is on cloud nine with the first of the state’s collecting, processing and packaging centres (CPPC) for durian in Tarat near here and one of his pet agricultural projects having proven its weight in gold.
Since its operation on Dec 30 last year, it has helped farmers earn extra income for their surplus fruits which would have been left to rot with the absence of buyers.
During its initial days of operation, farmers in the area sold between 300 to 500 fruits everyday, but now they are buying over 10,000 tonnes daily.
Uggah, who is also the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (Manred) officiated the soft opening of the centre.
A former Agriculture Department centre for processing pepper was refurbished into a CPPC last year at the cost of more than RM5 million, including the necessary equipment.
He said it was because of the huge demand, especially from China, that the government was encouraging the industrial development.
“Our emphasis is to maintain the existing 426,000 matured trees. But in all, plus the Musang King, we have around 890,212 trees state-wide. And we still have plenty of land,” Uggah said at CPPC soft opening today.
He added that the state government had decided on a business model involving an anchor company for its durian export business.
“This is the policy of our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to have the CPPC which is a game changer.
“For us we have engaged Top Fruit Sarawak, which has all the experience in growing and processing durian. It has a factory each in Kuala Lumpur and Johor which meets the food quality standard of 11 countries including China. But most important of all, it has the market,” he reiterated.
Uggah said the Tarat CPPC would be upgraded to allow it to obtain international quality certification like HCCP, GMP and others.
He said at least eight more CPPCs would be set up in the state to process not only durian but other local fruits.
“We too would like to appoint more anchor companies. Please let us know if there are those having the international food quality standards,” said Uggah.
Meanwhile Top Fruit Sarawak managing director Chong Yie Loong said that many local farmers had expressed their gratefulness for the establishment of CPPC.
It had helped them to earn extra income for their fruits which could have been left to rot otherwise. Chong said he was glad to note that the state’s indigenous species were considered as good as the Musang King by durian lovers in China.
“Tourists coming over to sample them had said they were just as delicious. We eventually hope to develop a Sarawak brand for our durian overseas. In this way we can promote greater awareness, acceptance and sale,” he said.
Chong said this might be a long and tedious process but he was confident that with the state government’s aid, it could be achieved. —DayakDaily