The recent announcement that Samarahan will have a food processing centre is indeed great news for the farmers and all involved in food processing business in Sarawak.
However, this type of centre should have been built long ago in many other food processing areas in the state to promote their potentials.
The main reason why such food processing centres were not built was because of lack of roads – without the connecting roads no investor will put money into huge farms for food processing as many types of these foods are easily perishable types.
Even when Tanjong Manis in the Rejang basin was set up with numerous facilities, investors were fewer than expected due to the lack of large food suppliers despite the fact that Sarikei, the closest town to Tanjong Manis, is often referred to as the food basket of Sarawak.
Another telling factor for investors not jumping in was the shortage of labour in the state – almost every business sector complains of the shortage of labour which is a handicap for large-scale industries to flourish here.
The building of the Pan Borneo Highway is a major step towards bridging the various parts of the state with a reliable road network for feeder roads to be feasibly built.
In spite of these setbacks, Sarawak has a distinct advantage in power generation; this is one of the brightest spots for the state’s future growth provided the rate charged is advantageous for would be investors.
The numerous water dams and ever-ready supply of natural gas makes Sarawak a surplus for energy generation incomparable to other states in the country.
This must be the selling point for Sarawak’s future growth and abundance of land is another area that should be part of the package for investors’ considerations.
For far too long the state has been relying on timber and oil for revenues which do not bring much development of downstream activities to the state.
With so much potential readily available, there must be a fresh look at how Sarawak can leverage on them to sustainably develop the state for future generations.
Philip Wong Pak Ming,