KUCHING: More than 600 delegates attended the 18th Asian Australasian Animal Production (AAAP) Congress, which was held in Sarawak for the first time.
The Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi (Dr) Abang Johari Tun Openg, who was represented by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, said that livestock production has been one of the most important sectors in the State as it provides food for local consumption as well as the generation of income for the rural population.
“In 2017, the State has produced 720 metric tonnes of beef valued at RM25.2 million and imported 6,525 metric tonnes worth RM165 million to meet the local consumption of 7,245 metric tonnes.
“Our self-sufficiency level (SSL) for beef is 10 per cent and we also export live animal (buffalo) to Brunei valued at RM6.9 million,” he said during the opening ceremony of 18th Asian Australasian Animal Production (AAAP) Congress at Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) here on Wednesday night.
He added that for the ruminant subsector, the development target set by the State by the year 2030 were to increase the SSL of beef and mutton from the current 10 per cent (beef) and 7 per cent (mutton) to 50 per cent each and fresh milk from 2 per cent to 105 per cent.
“The State should also take advantage of the abundance of grass and forages available in oil palm plantations.
“There are more than 1.56 million hectares of land under oil palm of which 625,000 hectares are suitable for cattle integration in oil palm that can carry about 125,000 head of cattle.
“As of now, only 10,500 head are in our cattle oil palm integration projects,” he said.
He also said that Sarawak was free from animal diseases of economic importance such as the Avian Influenza, Mad Cow Disease, and African Swine Fever.
“Therefore, it should attract investment in the livestock sector, being the centre for animal breeding and production due to our conducive animal health status and hence, the potential to export our livestock and its products.
“Sarawak is also poised to be a major player in the edible bird nest (EBN) industry as the State is now able to export raw clean EBN and – in the future – raw unclean EBN to China after four EBN processing plants were accredited by the China Accreditation Authority,” he said.
On the congress, he said that it was timely as animal production was currently plagued by issues such as animal productivity, feed resources, and animal welfare.
“I hope that in this congress, these problems can be discussed together and deliberated looking at every aspect of livestock production.
“This includes applying new technologies and innovations, and application of scientific findings so that practical solutions can be found to address them,” he said. The congress is held from 1 to 4 August 2018.