Rosy outlook for Bekenu agro-tourism

Dr Abdul Rahman and Rosey (sixth and seventh left respectively) give the thumbs up to the thriving herbal production at Kampung Terahad in Bekenu during their working visit there with Agriculture Department officers and the villagers.

MIRI: Bekenu is moving up in its agro-tourism drive through the cultivation of herbs and coconuts and rearing of buffaloes.

Stating that this augurs well for the economic development of villages in the constituency, Assistant Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Rosey Yunus, who is Bekenu’s two-term assemblywoman, said she had been quietly pushing for specialisation by villages in the constituency – pandan coconut plantation at Kampung Rancha Rancha, livestock rearing at Kampung Kayu Kapor and herbal gardens at Kampung Terahad.

This ‘one-village, one product’ initiative is tailored for agro-tourism development that will bring greater economic multiplier effect to the people, she added.

Bekenu, which is also known as the fruit belt next to Miri, is also gearing up for tourism with the infrastructure and agro-activities in addition to its beaches and orchards as attractions.

Kampung Terahad, about 45 minutes’ drive from Miri, is the raw herbal production centre now but the authorities are moving towards enabling the villagers to be involved in downstream activities. The notable products here include lemon grass, ginger, turmeric, shallots, chillies and other herbs.

“Kampung Terahad has come a long way since it embarked on herbal gardens 10 years ago and it is well-known as a herbal village now,” said Rosey.

She is encouraging farmers to expand the market for their products beyond the traditional local ‘tamu’ in Bekenu and Miri and urged them to pass down their skills and knowledge as a legacy to the younger generation. She said farmers can earn up to RM1,600 monthly and 40 individuals are applying for assistance from the Agriculture Department following the success of the first batch of 16 participants in the government assistance scheme.

A 40ha coconut plantation at Rancha Rancha is set to produce 32,000 fruits monthly by the second half of 2022 while visitors can enjoy the beautiful grasslands, buffaloes viewing and other activities at Kampung Kayu Kapor when the facilities are ready next year.

Assistant Minister of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail joined Rosey during her visit on Monday to inspect the sprawling herb gardens at Kpg Terahad.

He gave the thumbs up to the villagers’ enthusiasm to expand further with inclusion of more participants in this government assistance scheme to the village and said he would push for funds for a processing centre in the village to encourage downstream activities there.

The ministry has already approved RM5 million in infrastructure development at Kampung Kayu Kapor, the buffalo rearing centre that has been ear-marked as livestock production hub where a viewing platform would be built later.

The assistant minister said the GPS government through his ministry had allocated RM1 million in agriculture facilitation fund for each state assemblyman for developing the agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors in their respective areas.

Dr Abdual Rahman said the many schemes and aid programmes by the state government underscored its emphasis on reaching out and encouraging these stakeholders throughout the state to help the state become net exporter of food by 2030.

Meanwhile, he urged the local community to continue supporting the GPS leaders who had their best interest at heart and avoid being swayed by politicians who run them and the state government down when election is around the corner.

“I expect the state election to be not far off as Covid-19 would still be around next year, and it is vital that we remain on course with Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg leading GPS to continue the momentum of progress in Sarawak,” he said.

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