KUCHING, Sept 14: The Sarawak Agro Fund established in 2017 has approved RM28.6 million in grants and loans to 25 farmers in the state.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said these were being disbursed progressively to the farmers based on the progress of their projects.
He told the media this after visiting the Antares Venture Sendirian Berhad rice processing plant in Batu Kitang Road here today.
The company which involves in exporting Sarawak authentic indigenous rice to Singapore, has an order book of 180 tonnes this year.
Uggah also witnessed the signing of joint venture agreement between Antares Ventures and Carus Greenwealth where the two joined to form the Carus Antares Plantation, an business entity with the main thrust to support the growth of the indigenous rice industry.
Elaborating on the agro fund, Uggah said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had allocated a sum of RM100 million in the bid to further develop and modernise the State’s agriculture sector.
However, he noted that one of the biggest problems in the sector was that the youth were not too keen in farming as a career.
He said majority of the farmers now are those 50 years and above of age.
“So to lure more youths (as well), the approach is to modernise it. We are looking at precision farming like the fertigation method based on the Internet of Things (IOT) which will make the sector more trendy with less menial work and with greater returns.
“The agro fund is to assist farmers in this direction, either as providing the starting up capital or for further business growth and expansion,” said Uggah who is also the Minister of Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Farming.
Following the availability of existing modern technologies, he said the State government is going to set up more green houses and precision farming areas in agro parks statewide.
Citing Rampangi Agriculture Research Station, Uggah said it is one such modern farming model that involves several young farmers.
Additionally, he said the establishment of the Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office in Singapore (Statos) would help to market Sarawak’s agricultural produce to Singapore and beyond.
“We are already exporting our tilapia fish, fresh pork and pork products and others to Singapore. I am optimistic Singapore will be our links to more international markets.
“We want to market all that our farmers plant or rear. This will generate income for them and the State,” he said.
The Ministry’s permanent secretary Edwin Abit, the State Agriculture Department director Dr Alvin Chai, a political secretary to the Chief Minister Dr Richard Rapu, Sarawak Land Development Board general manager Siang Mandaw, Carus Group managing director Jeremy Sim and Antares Venture managing director Brendon Kon were among those present. — DayakDaily