‘Sayur midin’ geopolitics

Screenshots from Sarawak Business Matching on Food Sourcing’ webinar session

KUCHING: Sarawak and Singapore can achieve their respective food-related goals by pooling their resources in joint ventures, said Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office Singapore (Statos) chief executive officer, Chew Chang Guan.

He pointed out that Sarawak was developing into a food basket for Malaysia while Singapore aimed to have 30 percent of its food requirements produced locally.

“This is a big challenge for Singapore because currently less than ten percent of food sold in Singapore is produced locally,” he said in his opening remarks during the ‘Sarawak Business Matching on Food Sourcing’ webinar jointly organised by Singapore Business Federation and Statos on Wednesday (June 24).

Chew said one way in which Singapore could achieve this was by venturing into food production businesses based overseas, such as Sarawak which had vast agricultural land resources suitable for crops and food production.

He added Sarawak had four key advantages, namely its value for money, the commitment of the state government to engage and raise its partnership with Singapore businesses to a new level, its people, and the adventure it offered.

“It is the right time to buy Sarawak products or invest in Sarawak, and we are keen to make a great start here,” said Chew.

In the webinar, seven Sarawak food production companies delivered presentations on their business and potential opportunities for collaborations with Singaporean investors or partners. 

One of the companies was Carus Flora, a subsidiary company to Carus Eco Plants Sdn Bhd that focuses on the harvesting, collecting and distributing midin (Stenochlaena palustris – bracken ferns) locally and for export purposes.

“Here at Carus Flora, we are proud to be able to cultivate midin as a farm crop with the help of the state government,” said Shaun Ho, Carus Eco Plants Sdn Bhd group marketing officer.

He explained the harvesting, packing and delivery of the midin, adding that the vegetables were supplied to restaurants at RM15 per kg and was also available in various supermarkets.

Ho added that the company was also working on its trial packaging with the Department of Agriculture and its research and development (R&D) team to ensure that its midin would have an extended shelf life for export to overseas countries, including Singapore.

“We hope that Singapore will be one of our first overseas customers,” he said.

Ho explained that Carus Flora aimed to scale up its plantations to an estimated 500 acres to produce about 7.5 tonnes of midin daily by 2021.

“We also wish to increase the agriculture production in Sarawak to be in line with our state government’s aim of being a main net exporter of food products by 2030,” said Ho.