Development of highland, hinterland areas

The vast highland and hinterland have great potential in tourism and could be used to produce agriculture products for exports. Photo: sarawaktourism.com

KUCHING: The Orang Ulu community has been urged to find new ideas to further develop their highland and hinterland areas.

In making the call, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said the vast highland and hinterland have great potential in tourism and could be used to produce agriculture products for exports.

“You have land which can be used for economic activities. The land can be opened up for precision farming through the use of the latest technology including the Internet of Things and Internet of Everything.

“So, the  Orang Ulu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OUCCI) has to think of how to take advantage of the assets that you have,” he said when officiating at the launching ceremony of the OUCCI at Waterfront Hotel Kuching today.

The chief minister pointed out food production could also support the state’s goal to become a net food exporter by 2030.

“We are talking about security. Now, there is a shortage of food due to climatic changes. And that is why under our RM63 billion Post-Covid-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030, we go for digital economy and infrastructure as well as focus on environmental sustainability. We need to conserve certain areas and also make use of technology to add value to our assets,” he said.

Citing a book on the projection of the world population, Abang Johari said the world’s population was expected to increase to more than seven billion by 2030 with 60 percent in the east and Southeast Asia regions.

“So, we have the advantage because of the vast land that we have,” he added.

Abang Johari said the natural landscape and surrounding lakes as well as the rich cultural heritage and handicraft of the Orang Ulu community could also attract tourism.

“So under the first phase of our PCDS, we will also push for tourism amenities and infrastructure in this particular area. The benefits will be tremendous once all these are in place and people will be there to see the beauty in the upland area,” he pointed out.

Later at a press conference, Abang Johari said the state wanted to transform the agriculture sector through modern farming.

“There are two prerequisites for that, namely, accessibility in terms of road connectivity and digital connectivity besides the supply of power and water.

“These are being taken into consideration in our planning in the first phase of PCDS and the highland area.

“Therefore, it is time now for Orang Ulu entrepreneurs and professionals to look into the possibility of participating in our long term plan in that area.

“As such, the OUCCI becomes a platform to identify the various potentials and then to move forward in tandem with our journey towards 2030 as a developed state,” he said.

Abang Johari also revealed that the state government had granted RM10 million for OUCCI to run.