Uggah smells today, but for a very good reason

Uggah (centre) showing a 2kg packet of durian paste that will be shipped to KL. With him are (from left) Chai, Ik Pahon, Dr Abdul Rahman and Poo.

By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, Jan 21: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas went to ATA Supplies at Pending Industrial Estate here today looking pleased. Understandable, as he was there to launch a shipment of 15 metric tonnes of durian paste to Kuala Lumpur.

He told reporters he hoped Sarawak durians would be available globally one day and that would form part of the state’s goal of becoming a net food exporter by 2030.

To achieve this target, he said his Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (MANRED) was partnering with anchor companies like ATA Supplies.

“We have identified ATA Supplies (ATA) as one of two companies to assist in developing Sarawak’s durian industry,” he said.

Uggah, assisted by Poo (right), splitting open a durian by using special equipment. Looking on are (from left) Chai, Ik Pahon and Dr Abdul Rahman.

He explained that the strategy to use anchor companies was to tap the technology, management expertise, capital and ready-access markets of these companies in local and global arenas.

“This is where ATA comes in today, to complete the supply chain of the Farmer’s Associations here to the buyers and consumers elsewhere. Up til now, they have shipped out 42 metric tonnes of durian to Kuala Lumpur and part of the paste had been en-route to China.

“The durian paste will be used to produce pastries, ice cream, cakes, jams, biscuits and other confectionery items,” he shared.

Uggah added that by partnering anchor companies, durian farmers in the state would be assured of a stable price and market during the fruiting season.

“There will be no wastage and, in the long term, good for everybody involved. This business model has helped the government to boost the economic income of the farmers, especially those in the rural areas,” he said.

A worker with a truckload, 15 tonnes to be exact, of durian paste.

Meanwhile, ATA Supplies proprietor Andeline Poo Phei Sian said her firm was getting its supplies from Betong, Serian, Simunjan, Bau and Padawan.

“We hoped to target 100 metric tonnes of durian paste this season,” she said.

On another matter, Uggah said his ministry was researching on how to better dehydrate rambutans, like lychee, so that the fruits can be packed and consumed as snacks. This will also help rambutan farmers to stabilise prices and access a bigger lucrative market.

Also present at the event were Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, MANRED permanent secretary Datu Ik Pahon Joyik and Sarawak Agriculture Department acting director Dr Alvin Chai. — DayakDaily