KUCHING: Any research and development (R&D) initiatives done in Sarawak must be in line with the aim set by the state government.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said at the moment, the state government’s aim was to become a net food exporter by 2030.

“We need to leverage on modern agriculture production technologies while ensuring that these technologies are suitable and practical under our agro-climatic conditions.”

Uggah added that these included the emphasis on adoption of precision farming and digital technologies.

“This is to attract and encourage more entrepreneurs and youths to venture into food production along the whole supply chain,” he said.

His text of speech was read by Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Assistant Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Ismail during the Research Officers Progress Meeting (ROPM) at a hotel here yesterday.

Dr Abdul Rahman (seated centre) with (seated from left) Ronald, Dr Gluma, Dr Alvin, Dr Wong and the researchers. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

He said, in order for Sarawak to achieve a modern and commercialised agriculture sector, research and development activities must be done along the supply and value chain utilising ICT and digital technology.

“Sarawak has rich biodiversity, large water bodies, huge marine resources and land. We have about two million hectares of land with agricultural potential, 150,000 hectares of water bodies and 1.7 million hectares of peat soils, which are yet to be exploited.

“Therefore, there are huge potentials for the agriculture sector in Sarawak to expand and flourish,” he said.

On the decentralisation of research centres, Uggah said that the move was crucial and in keeping with the current need to accelerate modernisation and commercialisation of the agriculture sector in Sarawak.

“Currently, the department has only one centralised agriculture research centre located at Semenggok in Kuching.”

He urged the Agriculture Department to speed up the establishment of these Regional Research Centres for Northern, Central and Southern Region.

“The immediate plan is to elevate the existing Kabuloh Agriculture Research Station in Bekenu, Miri into Northern Regional Research Centre to serve the Northern Region, including the highlands,” he said.