Sarawak’s food trade deficit could increase nearly twofold by 2030 without extra effort to boost food security

Dr Abdul Rahman (centre) showing the Guide Book on Fruits Pests in Sarawak after launching it at the opening ceremony of ROPM 2019. Also seen is Chai (second left).

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Dec 3: Sarawak’s food trade deficit is anticipated to increase to about RM6 billion in 2030 if the agriculture sector continues at its current pace.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas thus emphasised the need for extra efforts in strengthening Sarawak’s food security to reduce food trade deficit which stood at about RM3.8 billion in 2018.

“The agriculture sector only contributed about 14 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2018. Of that figure, less than 2 per cent is contributed by food crops,” he said at the Research Officers’ Progress Meeting (ROPM) 2019 today.

His text-of-speech was read by Assistant Minister Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (MANRED) Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail.

He thus emphasised the importance for all stakeholders, including farmers, to work together to increase export of agricultural produce and food products that have comparative advantages and to reduce import of those that can be produced locally or to produce import-substitution food products.

“These could be achieved by adopting and adapting modern agriculture technologies to suit local conditions,” he said.

Uggah reiterated that the Sarawak government had boosted allocations to RM797 million next year for strengthening agriculture development with the aim to make Sarawak a net exporter of agro-food by year 2030.

This allocation, he explained, was meant for implementation of various programmes and activities including cash and equipment assistance for fishermen during monsoon season; establishment of agroparks in Sungai Sian and Sungai Baji, Sarikei and Sadong Jaya, Samarahan; and collecting, processing and packaging centres in Serian, Betong, Lawas, Limbang, Samarahan and Miri, among others.

DoA acting director Dr Alvin Chai Kuet Lian was present. —DayakDaily