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KUCHING, March 26: The state government is in need of strong support from the private sector to boost transformation of its agriculture industry.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said participation from the business community to invest in agriculture development and modernisation would help Sarawak compete with the agriculture powerhouses in the region.
The role of the government was to facilitate on land requirement and marketing aspects, in addition to provision of venture capital funds. The transformation however, would be largely be private sector-driven, he added.
“The way forward for Sarawak (agriculture industry) is to go into modern or precision farming. We still have the land, besides the many talented agropreneurs and the business community ready to explore opportunities in the industry.
“If we do this right, we can compete with countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and even India,” he said when briefing delegates from the Sarawak Business Council on the state’s agriculture transformation agenda here today.
The group led by Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) president Datuk Abang Abdul Karim Tun Openg included Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) president Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum and Sarawak eCommerce Association chairman Chew Hoo Lee.
Other members of the visiting group included representatives from the Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association and the Sarawak ICT Association.
Uggah, who is also Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, believed Sarawak can become a leading agricultural country if all development programmes were successfully implemented.
The private sector (business community) will make ideal partners to the government and have important roles to play through investments to realise this vision, he said.
“The objective of the transformation as spelt out by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg was for Sarawak to be a net exporter of food and food products by the year 2030.
“Our chief minister has not only been giving us the necessary funding but very strong encouragement and (is)implementing practical policies.
“I am glad to note that many with ‘deep pockets’ are venturing into agriculture, which needs a bit of cash to go into modern farming like the cultivation of specialty crops and fruits, as well as organic products that are lucrative businesses,” he said.
Uggah added while Sarawak is currently exporting raw products, the long-term aim was to develop its downstream processing.
He urged the council to come out with plans and proposals to support the state’s agricultural ventures.
Abdul Karim, in his speech, said the council was mulling on forming a special unit to focus on the agriculture sector. This would allow its members to work closely with the government and be part of the whole transformation process. — DayakDaily