By Ling Hui
KUCHING, July 18: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas has taken to task the critics who belittled the state government’s decision to build a RM108 million airport in Bebuling, Spaoh as a project of glamour and luxury.
“It (Bebuling airport) is to further facilitate, expand and strengthen the state (Sarawak)’s market oriented agriculture growth, development and contribution,” he said when officiating at the opening of the Spaoh Agriculture Station today.
Uggah, who is also Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (Manred), added that Spaoh was part of Sarawak’s huge ‘food basket’ – Betong and Sarikei divisions – areas where many activities and programmes regarding agricultural growth are being planned and fined tuned.
“We need faster transport to bring various products straight from the farms to domestic and foreign markets.
“We are planning for the future and the new farming groups will definitely benefit,” he said, adding that the state government through Manred was very serious in helping the people to increase their productivity and income.
On a related issue, he reiterated the efforts of the Sarawak government in setting aside a sum of RM265 million to smallholders in the state under the Agriculture Facilitation Fund (AFF) as additional assistance.
Another RM200 million was a venture capital with a revolving fund for more established farmers and breeders.
“Through these funds, we are helping farmers and breeders with fertilisers, planting materials, facilities and modern technologies,” he said, adding that only RM68 million of the funds had been spent to date.
Meanwhile, he urged the farmers to diversify their agriculture activities so that they could secure their income from other activities if market prices of commodities like palm oil, pepper or rubber were to drop.
Also present at the function were Saribas assemblyman Mohd Razi Sitam, Agriculture Department directior Dr Alvin Chai, Manred permanent secretary Edwin Abit and political secretary to the Chief Minister Dr Richard Rapu. —DayakDaily