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BETONG, Feb 1: The Sarawak government will help farmers rear more pigs, cattle, goats and buffaloes and plant durian trees, maize, coconuts, pineapples and bananas, among others, as the state’s agriculture sector has tremendous growth potential.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said this formed part of the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS)’s rural transformation programme, where the government assists rural landowners fully develop their assets through suitable agricultural activities.
Speaking during his visits to four longhouses in his Bukit Saban state constituency here yesterday, Uggah there was a huge demand for pigs, for instance.
“There is a huge demand from Singapore as Sarawak is one of the few countries in the region free from the mouth and foot disease. A farm in Samarahan is now exporting about 600 live pigs per day to Singapore.
“But the demand is about 1,200 pigs, and this speaks volume of its potentials.”
The Agriculture Department, he said, would provide free piglets and conduct courses on artificial insemination for the farmers.
On durians, Uggah, who is also Minister for Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Development, said there is “an almost insatiable demand in China”, and Sarawak farmers should exploit this.
He said the Agriculture Department had been distributing free `Musang King’ saplings and organising durian tree rehabilitation programme statewide since last year.
“Both programmes will continue this year to eventually boost the production of this fruit.”
He revealed that there was also a huge domestic demand for maize, particularly to be processed into animal feed.
“The state is importing almost RM300 million of maize annually, and, obviously, the amount reflects its great potential.”
Uggah said there was a huge demand for pineapples and bananas, too, as processed food.
“The people should diversify into these crops as their traditional cash crops like pepper and palm oil are now and then affected by cyclical low prices.”
As for palm oil, Uggah said the recent proposal by the European Union (EU) to ban its use in biofuel was a cause for great concern.
For the womenfolk, he said they could participate in embroidery and cake/biscuit baking classes.
“But please make such acquired skills a year-round job and not just confined to the orders received a few weeks or months before the annual Gawai or Christmas festivals.
“In this way, you can earn extra income for yourself.”
On politics, Uggah explained that GPS was formed to protect the state’s rights and to restore those under the Malaysia agreement 1963 that had been eroded.
He said its formation was also to allow the state to chart and expedite its own development plans and agendas.
“Our critics have often asked why we had not been vocal when we were under the Barisan Nasional (BN).
“Our answer is when we were under the BN, which then comprised of 14 different political parties, we had to go by consensus when we negotiated on our development needs.
“More often than not, we were overwhelmed by the majority decision. Now, on our own, we can do this our own way and at a much faster pace.”
He added that Sarawak under GPS would be governed by leaders from local political parties and not those from outside.
“Our GPS government will prioritise the state and the needs of its people. As such our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and his government deserve every support from all Sarawakians.”
Meanwhile, Uggah announced several minor rural projects (MRP) during his visits.
At Rumah Hendary Jawan in Serudit Atas, he announced a grant of RM200,000 to improve the longhouse’s drainage system and another RM20,000 for its Women’s Bureau.
At Rumah Ruselie Ujih in Serudit Baroh, he announced a grant of RM10,000 for SK Paku Sentral’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). — DayakDaily