Uggah: Not time yet to introduce cargo plane into the picture

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, Feb 28: The Ministry for Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development needs to ensure that all facilities supporting agricultural activities are running properly first before implementing the air cargo initiative announced last year.

Its minister, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, said one agricultural facility that needed to be set up was the collection, processing and packaging centres (CPPCs).

“Our first strategy is to have CPPCs. One of it is being done in Tarat for durians. It’s at the final stage of upgrading. Then later we will look at the whole supply chain of the facilities.

“From the farm, we have facilities for initial packaging, then we go to the wholesale area and then down to another centre where all these must be processed. For example, durian paste this year, we are exporting almost 70 tonnes, and before processing, it has to go through cold blasting to temperatures as low as -45°C for preservation.

“So, all these facilities have to be available within this CPPC so that by the time our products are able to be exported, it has met all the requirements,” said Uggah when reporters asked about the RM10 million cargo plane project that was proposed to be used to transport agricultural and jungle produce from the interior of the state to collection centres or direct to wholesalers within and even outside of the state.

Uggah (in green shirt) admiring a pineapple at a stall set up at the My Best Buy Direct From The Farm carnival.

Uggah had earlier launched the My Best Buy Direct From The Farm carnival at the old State Legislative Building here today.

The two-day nationwide carnival showcases and sells agricultural and agro-based products from various SMEs, farmers and entrepreneurs from across the state.

It is jointly organised by the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) and the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development.

He revealed that there was no update yet on the availability of the plane as it was still too soon to know.

“I’m not going to talk about the plane yet because we have existing airports in Kuching, Sibu and Bintulu, so we don’t have to build a new one (landing strips for the cargo plane) yet,” Uggah added.

In March last year, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg announced that the state government would be purchasing a RM10 million cargo plane to facilitate the export of agricultural products from the state.

He said the acquisition of the aircraft would require the building of landing strips in Sadok in Sri Aman and Tunoh in Kapit so that agricultural produce from the two areas and others around them could be brought to Kuching and exported faster and more efficiently. — DayakDaily