The ball is in your court, Abg Jo tells local farmers

Abang Johari (second right) and Minister for Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas (right) together with Assistant Minister of Native Land Development Datuk Roland Sagah Wee (second left) and Assistant Minister of Corporate Affairs Abdullah Saidol after the gimmick launch for Sarawak Agrofest 2018.

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By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, Oct 25: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg wants farmers in the state to take advantage of all the facilities and opportunities that have been made available to them to improve their livelihood.

He said the state government had carried out six strategic approaches to help farmers and to spur development of the state’s agricultural sector.

“I will continue to find new innovative and holistic ways to develop our agriculture sector. What we need now is commitment, perseverance and persistence in order to transform ourselves.

“This is because in the end you will benefit from it,” he said before launching Sarawak Agrofest 2018 at Penview Convention Centre (PCC) here today.

The first of the six strategic approaches was to consolidate local farmers with the corporate sector to boost the marketability of local farm produce for both domestic and international markets.

The second approach is to tap the talents of young, aspiring farmers to become agro-preneurs.

“Ths means farmers would not just have basic farming skills but also some business strategies. Maybe back in the old days, many local farmers did not have any business skills or knowledge, but now their children, who have graduated from universities, are well prepared to embrace that knowledge.

“These ‘second generation’ farmers should be groomed and trained to become modern agro-preneurs. Only then we can modernise our agriculture sector as well as change the perception of the people on agriculture,” he said.

The third approach involves the setting up of collection centres around the state, which was announced last year. With collection centres in Kota Samarahan, Betong, Limbang and other rural areas, farmers would be able to bring their farm produce to the centre to be sold or exported.

“Singapore, for example, has a population of five million, and they need to eat. They need our vegetables. That is why I approved the purchase of a cargo aircraft earlier this year to transport our farm produce to be marketed so that we can bring our farm products to supermarkets in Singapore,” he said, adding that the aircraft should be arriving at any time.

Abang Johari (third right) being briefed on how drones are used in the agriculture sector while Minister for Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas (right) and others look on at the Sarawak Agrofest 2018 at Demak.

The fourth approach involves the provision of basic infrastructure, namely treated water through the state water grid and electricity supply.

The fifth would be to provide venture capital for small farmers by the state government. The sixth is to organise programmes, seminars and conventions for farmers.

“I know that in this matter, human resource development is important. That is why we have courses and conventions to expose us to the new technologies available for our agricultural sector today,” said Abang Johari

He also highlighted on the Sarawak Trade Offices that would be set up in Singapore, Brunei and Pontianak in Indonesia soon to further boost marketability of local farm produce to these countries.

“The Singapore Cabinet has agreed with my proposal, and our Sarawak Trade Office in Singapore would be open in January 2019 at Robinson Road. I have also met with the Sultan of Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo, and they also agreed with the proposal,” said Abang Johari. — DayakDaily