KUALA LUMPUR: Sarawak has revealed its ambitious plan to be the food basket of ASEAN and enhance food security.
Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said Sarawak – under its Post-COVID-19 Development Strategy (PCDS) 2030 – will transform its traditional agriculture into a modern and commercialised industry to achieve this plan.
“We are ramping up our agriculture production by utilising technology and digitalisation, and at the same time encouraging youths to take part in modernising the state’s food sector.
“I believe, by 2030, Sarawak can become the food basket of Asean and increase regional food security,” he said in his keynote address at the International Business Review (IBR) ASEAN Awards 2022 ceremony at a leading hotel here, last night (Dec 9).
Abang Johari noted that food security has become an increasingly major concern worldwide following disruptions in global supply chain, thus pushing up prices of food.
He said in order to modernise the agriculture sector, Sarawak needs skilled, educated and creative workforce to level up its productivity.
“We are therefore investing heavily in education and providing opportunities for smart children in rural areas to have equal chance to obtain international level education.
“We also welcome knowledge workers to Sarawak who will add to the region’s human capital talent pool,” he added.
On Sarawak’s role in Asean, he told the 500 captains of industry from the region present that the state has been a key contributor of many natural resources, including natural gas and crude oil, adding that Sarawak is on its way to becoming an even more crucial player in ASEAN’s new economic development.
“In order to emerge as a stronger region and build a fully functional ecosystem for Sarawak, we are now implementing our Post-COVID-19 Development Strategy 2030.
“This economic recovery plan capitalises on mega-trends around the world, as we focus on opening our borders to help traditional industries become more sustainable and change the economic landscape with new areas of growth,” he said.
The Premier said ASEAN’s future growth is dependent on stable, secure and sustainable supply of renewable energy, particularly with growing concerns in tackling climate change and the goal towards net zero emissions by 2050.
He said Sarawak has the means and capacity to be the green battery of ASEAN, where the state positions herself to be South East Asia’s powerhouse through affordable, reliable and renewable energy.
“We will maintain at least 60 percent of our power generation capacity mix from renewable sources by 2030,” he added.
He said Sarawak will be able to contribute to the production of green and more sustainable hydrogen energy in the near future, adding that by 2027, the state is capable of producing 220,000 tonnes of green hydrogen upon completion of the state’s first hydrogen plant.
Abang Johari also touched on his government’s Carbon Capture and Utilisation Storage (CCUS) effort.
“We are making effort to ensure that we have the right policy in place to regulate forest carbon activities and develop CCUS as a powerful mitigation effort that can fast track the growth of ASEAN economies on the path to net-zero emissions.”
On the IBR ASEAN Awards, Abang Johari said he hoped to see Sarawak companies participate in the future.
“We have so many companies, government agencies and individuals that meet the criteria to win in either of the four categories of the awards.
“In Sarawak, we have companies that are leaders in the plantations, oil and gas, construction, and energy industries, which all meet the criteria to receive the Corporate Excellence Awards.
“I am also proud to say that we have a number of organisations that have pioneered and adopted innovations to raise their offerings to the next level, and I believe they should be recognised with the Innovation Technology Awards,” he said.
The Premier suggested that IBR Asia Group, organisers of the IBR Asean Awards, to create a special awards ceremony for Sarawak-based organisations to reflect Sarawak’s contributions to ASEAN.
Meanwhile, IBR Asia Group CEO Datuk Beatrice Nirmala in her opening speech, stressed the importance of South East Asian nations having their own voice.
“We need to have our own narrative, and define who we are, our businesses, our policies and our industries, hence IBR Asia Group’s decision to form partnerships in Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines,” she said.
Beatrice said her company is also working on partnerships with Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, India and China.
IBR Asean Awards, the premier business awards in Asean, recognises public and private sector organisations and leaders that have achieved excellence in their performance.
Tan Sri G. Gnanalingam, founder and executive chairman of Westports Holdings Berhad, was among those who received the IBR recognition. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award.