Sarawak to focus on fertigation farming next year – Uggah

Uggah (left) presents the APC 2018 award to an Agriculture Department staff member, in the presence of Dr Chai.

MIRI: Sarawak will be focusing on high-technology farming via the fertigation system next year, as a key strategy to position the state as a net exporter of food products by 2030.

Fertigation maximises crop yield up to five times per unit area through the controlled application of water and fertilisers.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas says he has received lots of requests from agropreneurs in Sarawak to start fertigation farming, following the success of the method locally and overseas.

However, as a start and to ensure long term success, he has directed all divisional Agriculture officers, with the cooperation of elected representatives, to come up with proposals for projects in every constituency within three months – or by mid-August this year.

“We have the right model and now we want to focus on this and make sure that all constituencies would implement it.

“Our Rampangi model seems to work and some of them (agropreneurs) earn few thousands of ringgit a month.

“Over here in Kabuluh, Miri, one of the farmers planting vegetables, (is) earning RM50,000 per month,” said Uggah during the Agriculture Department’s ‘Appreciation Dinner’ here on Friday.

Uggah added that subsequent measures to be taken to achieve the 2030 target would be to ensure an effective chain system so that what was planted could be sold, processed and sold at competitive prices.

These would include creating more community enterprises through the area farmers organisations (AFOs), intensifying rehabilitation programmes for high-demand fruits like durian, pineapple, rambutan and banana, upgrading the existing 140 agricultural stations in Sarawak, increasing the number of agriculture extension officers, and sourcing for funds.

“We have 160,000 AFO members and this is a big potential agency that can be developed into supply chain providing services like transportation, processing and marketing to the farmers, and trigger modernisation within the agriculture sector.

“Towards this end and to empower and build capacity for AFOs, we have allocated RM6 million this year and we will allocate more next year.

“We want them to work out more services. There are lots of success stories of AFOs in Sarawak and also in foreign countries, which we can emulate,” said Uggah, who is also Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development (Manred).

On the fruits rehabilitation programme, he said durian would be the ‘in’ thing for next year as there were already 10 hectares of durian plantations in Sarawak, with mature trees ready to bear fruits.

Moreover, durian was in great demand in countries like China, he added.

“This morning during the dialogue, there was one buyer from China and his company’s import was 400 tonnes a year; China imported 50,000 tonnes of durian paste a year, and Malaysia exported 208,000 tonnes of durian paste in 2018.

“We hope to increase it (export),” he said, adding that the company was willing to buy any amount and, according to them, the price for one kilogramme of durian paste is equivalent to that of six fruits of durian.

At the function, Uggah also presented Excellent Service Awards (APC) 2018 to 148 staff members, and appreciation awards to 80 who would retire next year.

Among those present at the dinner were the Assistant Minister of Women, Family and Childhood Development Rosey Yunus, Assistant Minister of Local Government Datu Dr Penguang Manggil, Sibuti MP Lukanisman Awang Sauni, Piasau assemblyman Datuk Sebastian Ting, Manred acting permanent secretary Awang Johari Awang Mustapha, acting director of Agriculture Department Dr Alvin Chai Lian Kuet, and Miri Resident Mastapha Julaihi.

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