KUCHING: Sarawak is set to have its first cheese factory, producing halal mozzarella cheese from buffalo milk.
Minister for Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development, Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said an area had been identified in Lawas for the construction of the facility.
“Maragang (area) has a lot of suitable buffaloes. Smallholders have been involved in buffalo farming (there) but in small scale.
“There are about six to 7,000 buffaloes, managed by around 600 smallholders in the area.
“Dr Raja Imran Shah (chief executive officer of Green Valley Dairy Sdn Bhd) has identified the area as a potential location to establish the cheese factory.”
Dr Rundi said this after the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Maragang Green Valley Dairy Sdn Bhd on a buffalo breeding project and cheese making at the buffalo breeding station in Maragang, Lawas at Imperial Hotel here yesterday.
He added that the Sarawak government had allocated RM15mil to start the project and arrangements in acquiring assets agreed by the Sarawak Farmers Organisation (PPNS) and Green Valley Dairy.
“If this project is successful in Maragang, then we will look for other spots or areas to create more of this.
“At the moment, we have private investors and farmers putting in efforts together in the breeding of sheep in Temudok in Sri Aman, so this is a joint venture there.
“So in our effort to improve our agriculture industry, we cannot just rely solely on local entrepreneurs.
“People from outside with the knowledge and expertise in modern farming and livestock need to come in to jumpstart the industry here.”
Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, who is also the PPNS chairman, said the organisation would do its best to make buffalo breeding efforts at the farm a success.
“We also aim to further increase the self-sufficiency level (SSL) to 30 per cent (currently at 12 per cent) by 2030, and 50 per cent in 2050.
“We will work to ensure the success of this project in order to be the first cheese producer in Borneo by the end of 2024.”
On another note, Dr Rundi also commented on the new name of the ministry, which was officially announced by the Premier on Wednesday.
“The function of the ministry is still maintained, but the direction will be more focused on efforts to commercialise existing industries to generate revenue.”