State agricultural transformation needs participation of business persons: Uggah

KUCHING: Sarawak agricultural transformation will certainly need the participation of Sarawak business people.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said they would make ideal partners for the government to ensure success.

He said this when briefing a delegation from Sarawak Business Council on the Sarawak agricultural sector transformation agenda here yesterday.

Uggah shares information with a member of the delegation.

The delegation was led by Sarawak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) president Datuk Abang Abdul Karim Tun Openg.

Among those present then were Dayak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) president Datuk Joseph Salang, chairman of Sarawak e-Commerce Association Chew Hoo Lee and representatives of Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association and the Sarawak ICT Association.

Uggah said the transformation would be largely driven by the private sector as the government’s role was confined to facilitating land requirements and certain aspects of marketing besides provision of venture capital.

“Your role is very important and your members can help by investing,” he said.

Uggah, who is Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, said Sarawak could be a leading agricultural producer if all development programmes could be implemented successfully.

“If we do this right, we can compete with countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and even India,” he said.

“We have the land besides many talented agropreneurs and business persons who are ready to explore opportunities in the industry.

He was confident that the way forward is for Sarawak to go into modern or precision farming.

According to him, the objective of the transformation as spelt out by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg is for Sarawak to be a net exporter of food and food products by the year 2030.

“Our chief minister has not only been giving us the necessary fund but also his very strong encouragement and practical policies,” he said.

“I am glad to note now that many persons with “deep pockets” are venturing into agriculture.

“It needs a bit of cash to go into modern farming like the cultivation of specialty crops and fruits and organic products but they are lucrative businesses.”

Uggah (centre), flanked by Abang Karim (left) and Salang, pose with his visitors.

Uggah pointed out that while initially, Sarawak would export raw products, the long-term aim is to go onto downstream processing.

Hence, he urged members of the federation to let the government know if they needed support in their investments and proposals.

Abang Karim, in his speech, revealed that SBF was mulling forming a special unit to focus on the agricultural sector.

He said the unit would allow its members to work closely with the government and be part of the transformation process.