Uggah (right), Abdullah (left) look at some of the local products sold by fishermen at the event.
BY CLEMENT ERIK WONG & ALVERDTEKOSTER ANYAP

MATU: The state’s food basket area stretching from Betong to Sarikei divisions will now include the Mukah Division.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said the food basket area now is from Betong until Jemoreng.

He said an initial sum of RM187 million had been set aside to develop the necessary infrastructure, drainage and irrigation system in these areas.

“The Mukah Division has great potentials for marine products and agro-industry.

“For the agro-industry, we are eyeing large scale banana, pineapple, coconut and other food crop cultivation and processing.

“These are for export as we target to be a net food and food product exporter by 2030.

“We already have a good start as we are exporting many food products to a number of overseas countries,” he said when declaring open a RM3 million Tekajong Agriculture Station here today.

Uggah, who is the Minister of Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Development called on officers of the department not to be reluctant or afraid of acquiring modern technologies.

“Your duties are to help transform the sector into a modern one.

“Gone are the days when your roles are about distributing subsidies or fertilisers.

“Acquire modern knowledge like the new farming method of fertigation, hydroponics, usage of the IoT (Internet of Things) and spread them among the farmers.

“These methods yield much more harvests and our farmers can certainly earn better income.

“So when our state moves into the high income society by 2030, our rural folks are not left behind,” he said.

Uggah added all new agriculture stations should also act as incubators for farmers where they could learn food processing and modern packaging standards.

He also said all new stations should have ample space where the officers could organise demonstration plots for fertigation and hydroponic farming.

Later speaking to the media, Uggah said the government was still in the process of identifying successful buyers for the 300 units of the three bedrooms (plus two washrooms) houses at the Semop Rural Growth Centre.

Each unit costs RM75,000 and is only for registered fishermen in the area.

He said the government had spent RM23.5 million on the project.

On the Bruit Area Fisherman Association, he described it as one of the more successful associations in the state.

“Because of good and honest management, it now has assets worth RM2.3 million.

“I hope other fishermen associations can emulate its success,” he said.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Corporate Affairs and Sarawak Public Communication Unit) Abdullah Saidol said Uggah’s visit was for him to see how the fishermen and farmers had contributed to Bruit’s economic development.

“We hope he can provide us with more fund and grants to bring in other needed infrastructures and facilities for the local farmers and fishermen to move forward,” he said.