Uggah (second right) receiving a souvenir from Kedup assemblyman Martin Ben at the closing of the AgriCOP.

SERIAN: The Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Development Ministry has more plans in store to further assist local farmers and livestock breeders to help them increase food production, thus enabling the state to be a net food exporter by 2030.

Its minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the ministry wants to increase the number of ‘extension staff’ who are experts in food production.

“Our famers need to be guided by experts so that our food production will increase,” he told reporters after officiating at the closing of Agriculture Community Outreach Programme (AgriCOP) at Balai Babuk Barum, Kampung Bunan Gega/Bunan Punok, Serian today.

Uggah, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, said that there are also plans to have a Food Terminal Centre which will serve as a wholesale market.

“This food terminal will become like a food exchange centre and we are planning to do the first one in Kuching,” he said.

He added the AgriCOP has been very encouraging and received good response from local farmers, and the ministry will continue to guide and support them in their agricultural activities.

“Now our farmers are more towards planting oil palm and pepper, but we want them to focus on food crops such as corn, fruits, vegetables, ginger and chillies as these crops require only a short period of time to grow.

“So that when the price of commodity drops, these food products are able to support them during the difficult times. This is our strategy to diversify their income,” he pointed out.

This is why the ministry also encourages farmers to grow crops using fertigation and hydroponics techniques, and artificial insemination methods for rearing of livestock in order to increase the food production.

In the meantime, he said the ministry will continue to support the anchor companies to increase their production for export.

“A company in Samarahan is exporting banana chips to China and Taiwan. And they now have banana flour and already has received orders from Penang and Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

Earlier, Uggah also announced another allocation of RM500,000 for Agriculture Facilitation Fund (AFF) on top of the RM1 million AFF for Kedup farmers to purchase agricultural inputs.