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SPAOH, Dec 11: The Betong Division needs to aggressively expand gula apong as the current local production is still not able to meet the current and future high demand of the nipa palm sugar, which has now been exported overseas.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas pointed out that gula apong has a huge potential to become another signature product of the Betong Division given its derivative as a natural sweetener suitable for consumption by diabetic people.
“Two establishments are presently transforming the industry into a modern one with Kit Hin Company Sdn Bhd and Koperasi Apong Saribas Bhd.
“Kit Hin Company has succeeded in exporting the products to Singapore, China, and Taiwan, but the company needs 600 tonnes of raw material yearly. Currently, it imports 550 tonnes from Kalimantan with 50 tonnes sourced locally,” he said.
Uggah, who is incumbent for the Bukit Saban seat, highlighted this when officiating at the first annual general meeting of Koperasi Apong Saribas Bhd here today.
He noted that the cooperative, whose chairman Rasli Muslimin is a senior lecturer with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), is working closely with the university to adopt technologies to produce good grade products and by-products which meet local and international market standards.
“The cooperative could play a vital role in spearheading the industry’s development in the Beladin and Saribas area. They could look into producing 250 tonnes of local sugar yearly.
“Efforts to modernise and increase production are there. The cooperative is actually in the process of developing a processing centre at Kampung Spaoh. I hope they can come up with their own brand soon,” he said while giving assurance of continuous support from the Sarawak government.
Uggah added that there was a suggestion that the current nipa palm growing areas be preserved to facilitate the growth of the industry and in the interest of mitigating problems caused by climate change.
Betong MP Datuk Robert Lawson Chuat and political secretary to the chief minister Dr Richard Rapu were among those present. ― DayakDaily