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KUCHING, Feb 14: Sarawak government needs strong public-private sector collaboration to turn its agriculture industry into an export-oriented one.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the state needed to up its ante by producing quality products to overcome stiff competition from countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.
Private companies, especially the well-established ones, wield advantages such as having their own processing plants that are internationally recognised for quality standards — an important component to attract the international market.
This is why the state is pursuing the idea of having anchor companies as a new module in its agriculture development direction, the minister said.
Currently, anchor companies in Sarawak are engaged in durian, banana and pineapple processing for export.
“High-quality standards (in agriculture products) should be our focus, and the government’s role is basically to facilitate and address problems along the whole supply chain instead of running the business.
“The government has to be practical, and we will collaborate for mutual benefits,” said Uggah, who is also Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, at a luncheon with senior management of eight anchor companies here today.
The ministry’s permanent secretary Datuk Ik Pahon Joyik and acting state Agriculture director Dr Alvin Chai were among those present.
Uggah expressed contentment with the role of anchor companies in supporting local farmers and agriculture smallholders in providing added-value to their products for the export market.
He said a number of local businesses with the potential to become anchor companies had been identified. Getting more companies on board in the public-private sector collaboration is important to support the state’s ambition to become a net exporter of food by 2030.
“We must have the volume. That is why, in addition to the anchor companies, we are creating agriculture parks statewide. We have also set up venture capital as an added measure to help potential agropreneurs grow,” he said.
The state government has allocated RM200 million for this capital, which is now open for bidding, Uggah continued.
He said the potential in the state’s agriculture sector included food production, fishery and livestock. — DayakDaily