Sarawak turns to technology to transform state into a net food exporter

Uggah (centre) receives a souvenir from Abdul Shukor as Shiwachi looks on.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Oct 12: Sarawak plans to use precision agriculture technology to turn its two million hectares of available land into a formidable food industry for the export market by 2030.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas is confident the state could materialise this dream as it had successfully developed a total of 65,000 hectares with paddy across the state.

“We also have identified fruit basket areas from Sarikei to Betong. We are also in the midst of looking for suitable land in the highland. It is being done by the Upper Rejang Development Agency (URDA) for fruits like durians.

“We hope by next year we will be able to do it,” he told a press conference today after officiating at the 3-day International Society for Southeast Asian Agricultural Science (ISSAAS) 2018 Congress here.

He said the state was honoured to host the Congress as the state was in the midst of developing its agriculture industry in line with its digital economy agenda.

“We want to move our agriculture sector to the next level, especially in terms of applying technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT).

“The state government has allocated RM50 million for a start to implement the IoT. Hence, this conference will be very valuable and relevant, indeed,” he said.

Uggah said the state was currently a net importer of food products amounting to RM3.6 billion annually.

“If we think in terms of agriculture products, we are a net exporter because of contributions from the oil palm industry.

“We want to reverse from being a net importer of food products to a net exporter. We want to also make sure that our products meet the international market requirements,” he said.

Uggah explained that the state would focus on using technology because one of its biggest problems is manpower.

“We hope that by using technology, we will be able to increase our productivity and make us more competitive,” he said.

In addition, the state would be working with experts from Universiti Putra Malaysia to further develop its agriculture sector.

“We hope to be able to sit down and get to define the various sectors that we can work on and come out with something before the end of the year.

“They have a big campus in Bintulu. They also have a lot of scientists, 30 PhD holders. I am very confident of collaborating with them,” he said.

Also present at the opening ceremony were Universiti Putra Malaysia vice-chancellor Prof Datin Paduka Dr Aini Ideris, ISSAAS secretary-general Dr Hironobu Shiwachi and ISSAAS president Professor Dr Abdul Shukor Juraimi. — DayakDaily