KUCHING: Sarawak will work closely with the federal government to ensure sufficient production and supply of food at affordable prices.
To achieve this objective, the state government has embraced the National Food Security Policy, said Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.
He said the government was committed to implementing various initiatives to strengthen national food supply and had set aside large sums of money from its own coffers towards this end.
“Sarawak has also agreed to establish the Food Security Committee at state and district levels to ensure the smooth implementation of the National Food Security Policy Action Plan (2021-2025) and the key initiatives include increasing areas for food production by zoning and gazetting more paddy production areas, Permanent Food Production Parks (TKPMs) and Aquaculture Industrial Zones (AIZs),” he said.
He was responding to allegations raised by Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food Industries Datuk Dr Nik Muhammad Zawawi in Parliament recently.
Rundi said contrary to the claims, Sarawak had been working closely with the federal government and its agencies to develop the agriculture sector, particularly the food industry.
“Currently, there are a number of federal agencies that are established in Sarawak, including Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA), Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board (MPIB), Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM), Department of Fisheries Malaysia (DOF), Integrated Agriculture Development Area (IADA) Samarahan, IADA Batang Lupar, IADA Kalaka-Saribas-Betong, Malaysian Cocoa Board (MCB), Malaysian Pepper Board (MPB) and Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB).
“On the claim that Sarawak does not allow Farmers’ Organisation Authority (LPP) to be established in Sarawak, the role of LPP in Sarawak is empowered to the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture and Regional Development Sarawak (MANRED) as the registrar’s representative for Area Farmers’ Organisation (PPK) and State Farmers’ Organisation (PPNS) in Sarawak.
“On the allegation that we have the least number of registered members, currently, we have a total of 177,124 farmers registered with 28 PPKs throughout Sarawak, while PPNS is affiliated to the National Farmers Organisation (NAFAS),” he said.
He said the farmers’ information was also shared with LPP.
“To say Sarawak has the fewest registered farmers with federal agencies is untrue as LPP has only introduced a new system to register the farmers online which is known as Peladang Klik in 2020 and not all PPK members have been registered under the new system,” he added.
Rundi said farmers in Sarawak were also registered with LKIM, FAMA, DOF, MPIB, IADAs to name a few of the federal agencies.
“However, the development funds from the federal government to these agencies have been very limited and insufficient to develop a huge region like Sarawak.
“To make up for the shortfall, the Sarawak government has in fact provided additional fund to these agencies.
“In fact, as an equal partner in the federation of Malaysia, we believe Sarawak should be given an equitable amount of development fund with that of Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah,” Rundi said.
He said Sarawak was aggressively transforming the agriculture sector by undertaking key initiatives to boost food production through research and development, adoption of digital technology and leveraging on global partnership in both upstream and downstream activities.
“Currently, the ministry is conducting several trade and promotional missions to advanced countries such as The Netherlands and Singapore ,and seeking collaborations with internationally-renowned groups to fasttrack our agriculture sector development.
“Nevertheless, we will continue to work closely with the federal government to enhance food security and pursue the various agriculture development programmes and projects,” Rundi said.