KUCHING: Sarawak has the expertise to train farmers with the technology to carry out modern agriculture, and it now wants to further convince the youth to take up agriculture as a business entity.
Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said towards this end, he has instructed Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) to set up agricultural laboratories in the state’s rural areas.
“With the establishment of the labs, UNIMAS is able to train the community in the rural areas, particularly the young farmers in modern farming,” he said.
Abang Johari said this when met by reporters after officiating at UNIMAS commemorative convocation ceremony at DeTAR PUTRA UNIMAS on Monday (June 27).
He stressed the agriculture sector nowadays which uses modern technology, provides a good business opportunity and lucrative income and is no longer seen as a low-class job.
“We have eight more years to go before 2030 – making the state into a net food exporter by 2030.
“So, we will also do research on coconut and pineapple because we also want to focus on downstream agriculture industries.
“For instance, even for canned pineapples we have to import it where on the other hand, we can actually produce our own canned pineapples and export it. So, this is one of the areas on which we will work with UNIMAS,” he said.
In addition, he said, with all basic and digital infrastructure provided for modern agriculture, the private sector could be roped in to become anchor companies.
“Private companies can come to be anchor companies and can buy from our ordinary farmers and they can export it.
“Most importantly, the quality of food must meet the requirement of the international standards (for export),” he said.
At the same time, he said the cooperation between UNIMAS and the Sarawak government in the establishment of the labs could allow the state to produce its own fertiliser and feedstock without having to import them for use in the agriculture sector.
He pointed out that the current situation was that the state has huge land which could be cultivated thus enabling the state to become a food exporter.
“The perception about agriculture here is that a farmer wears a straw hat, holding a garden hoe and looks tired.
“If this perception continues, who wants to take up agriculture activities? But, if you use technology or Internet of Things (IoT), the young ones will definitely want to venture into agriculture activities,” he said.