By Nancy Nais
BAU, Aug 15: The Sarawak government under its Agriculture Facilitation Fund (AFF) has approved RM1 million for Serembu constituency to develop their land for crop plantation.
Announcing this at the Community Extension Outreach Programme (CEOP) in Kampung Kopit today, Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the state government is committed in not only turning Sarawak into a food exporter but also helping the local farmers to tap into modern farming.
“Today, I approved RM1 million for this project here because Serembu assemblyman Miro Simuh has quite a number of farmers who are serious and interested in modern farming.
“There are vast land in this area and it is located just 30 minutes away from Kuching city. Therefore, I feel there is a potential and we should support them.
“With the allocation, they can work out with Area Farmers Organisations (PPK) Bau on how to cultivate their land, process and market their products using modern farming or new technology,” he told reporters after the event.
To further assist the farmers in Serembu, Uggah assured he will get PPK Bau to plan the whole procedures from the beginning, while the ministry will support with the requirements and facilities such as machines.
Uggah, who is also the Deputy Chief Minister, added it has been Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s vision to turn Sarawak into a net food exporter by 2030.
However, to achieve this, he noted that Sarawak’s agriculture products must be of high quality and meet international standard food requirement particularly Halal Certification Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)or Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP)
“Quality and standards required by overseas market are strict, therefore, we must uplift our agriculture sector and position itself properly to be able to compete in the international market.
“Farmers must bear in mind that when it comes to processing and marketing, the packaging must be attractive as well because farmers here should not be competing among themselves or from other constituency in Sarawak, but they must compete with other countries such as Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam Indonesia, ” Uggah emphasised.
He added that Sarawak is currently a net importer of food products worth almost RM4 billion.
Citing an example, Uggah pointed out that there are local companies that import chilli up to 10 tonnes and 400 million corns per month from Taiwan and Vietnam, when these vegetables could be cultivated in Sarawak.
He acknowledged that although it posed a big challenge, at the same time, Uggah believed there are many locals who are enthusiastic in agriculture.
“We have a lot of land here, so we should convert it. The state government will continue its efforts to strengthen agricultural sector by encouraging more participation even on a small scale as part of efforts to generate Sarawak’s economy,” he said.
Meanwhile, Uggah said Miro has identified three types of main crop for Serembu, namely MD2 pineapple, baby corn and Bentong ginger.
They have also identified about 100 acres of community land which will be developed and planted with MD2 pineapple (30 acres), baby corn (40 acres) and Bentong ginger (30 acres).
Currently, there is a MD2 pineapple farm in Kampung Kopit which was under the Agriculture Facilitation Fund (AFF) Phase 2019 where RM150,000 were allocated for pineapple sucker (sulur nanas) and road infrastructure.
The group of 19 farmers have planted a total of 42,000 pineapple suckers on the 1.9- hectare land.-DayakDaily