Dr Alvin Chai (right) presents a memento to Uggah.

BETONG: The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) state government plans to increase the monthly household income in the state from RM2,131 to RM4,000.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the government is currently in the midst of making many preparations, especially in the agricultural sector, to achieve this.

“I believe this is achievable since we have the land mass and our farmers and breeders are hard working people.

“It is for the government through the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development together with the Agriculture Department to help them through grants, planting materials and modern technologies,” he said.

He said this when officiating at the Spaoh Agriculture Station costing RM4.5 million in Spaoh here yesterday (July 18).

Uggah, who is the also Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, further said that it would create more agriculture parks where lots could be rented out to interested but landless farmers.

It would create two more collecting, processing and packaging centres (CPPC) to help in the buying, processing and marketing of agricultural products.

“We have now built 10 new agriculture stations statewide. They will be the place for farmers to seek guidance, assistance and new technologies.

“We will also have green house units in them to demonstrate modern methods like fertigation and hydroponics,” he said.

Uggah added the respective Farmers’ Organisation branches statewide would also help to buy the farmers’ produce as well.

“My ministry, for instance, had allocated the state Farmers’ Organisation a sum of RM1.5 million to buy fruits and vegetables from farmers during the movement control order (MCO). This was a great help to them during the period,” he said.

He also mentioned that the government too had set aside a sum of RM265 million under the Agriculture Facilitation Fund (AFF) as additional assistance to farmers and breeders.

“Through this fund, we are helping farmers and breeders with fertilisers, planting materials, facilities and technologies. We also use the fund to reach out to fishermen on their needs,” he said.

Uggah said so far only RM68 million had been spent to date.

He said for those more established farmers and breeders, the government created the Venture Capital with a revolving fund of RM200 million.

On another matter, he took to task critics who had belittled the government’s decision to build the RM108 million airport in Bebuling in Spaoh.

“This is not a project of glamour or luxury. It is to further facilitate, expand and strengthen the state market-oriented agriculture growth and development and its contribution.

“Spaoh is part of the huge Betong/Sarikei Food Basket area where many activities and programmes are still being planned and fine tuned.

“We need faster transport to bring the various products straight from the farms to domestic and foreign markets.

“We are planning for the future where the new farming group will definitely benefit,” he said.

Uggah meanwhile again advised farmers to diversify their activities. He said when the market prices of commodities like pepper or rubber dropped, they could still have income from other activities.

Present at the function were Saribas state assemblyman Mohd Razi Sitam; political secretary to the chief minister Dr Richard Rapu; ministry permanent secretary Edwin Abit; and Agriculture Department director Dr Alvin Chai.