Strong cooperation among the private sector needed to transform agriculture sector   

Hii (right) exchanging documents with Teo, as Uggah (centre) looks on.

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, Feb 17: Private sectors have been urged to work together in developing and transforming the agriculture sector.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said industry players need to come forward and form collaboration or cooperate with each other to drive the agriculture sector forward.

“I hope more companies in Sarawak can take part in assisting to transform the agriculture sector. It is one of the most important economic sectors for the Sarawak’s economy and we have vast amount of land, long coastline and the potential (to develop agriculture) is there.

“I hope the private sector can come forward and play their part,” he said at the agreement signing between Borneo Eco Fish Sdn Bhd and fast food chain operator Sugarbun Restaurant here today.

Under the agreement, Borneo Eco Fish will supply tilapia fish to Sugarbun.

Uggah, who is also Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, said the state has provided the facilities and ecosystem for the development of the agriculture sector, as well as assisting industry player to meet and comply with the international requirements for their agriculture produce.

He encouraged more industry players especially from the private sector to be involved in the supply chain of agriculture.

Uggah noted that Sarawak is currently a net food importer of approximately RM4 billion a year. The state government, through the agriculture ministry, has set a goal to become a net food exporter by 2030.

He believed that with new strategies, approach and smart technologies used in developing the agriculture sector, Sarawak is on track to achieve that target.

Uggah said the ministry has upgraded the facilities at Batang Ai to provide a conducive environment for businesses to operate, as well as assisting them to meet the international certification for their agriculture produce.

Meanwhile, Sugarbun restaurant will increase its order for tilapia fish from eight tonnes per month to 10 tonnes.

Sugarbun general manager Raymond Teo revealed that the supply of tilapia fish from Borneo Eco Fish will be for its fast food chains throughout the Sarawak and Brunei markets.

He said the company has 65 fast food chains in Sarawak and 10 in Brunei.

The company will also consider supplying the tilapia fish for its fast food chain in Singapore in the future. Sugarbun also has outlets or franchisees operating in Labuan, Sabah, Peninsular Malaysia, Bangladesh and Australia.

Borneo Eco Fish managing director Thomas Hii believed that there are huge potential to cultivate anchor farming model with collaboration with smallholders in the rural area.

Borneo Eco Fish is the largest producer of tilapia fish in Sarawak with 5,000 cages producing more than 100 tons of tilapia fish every month.

The company expected its production of tilapia fish to increase up to 150 tonnes per month by the end of 2020 with the setting up of its new factory and processing centre at Batang Ai, as well as a new hatchery and nursery at its farms. — DayakDaily