Uggah (second right) presents a souvenir to Nanta (second left), while Tan (left) and others look on.

PRICE CONTROL MECHANISM

KUCHING: Agriculture inputs such as fertilisers, pesticides among others ought to be placed under the price control mechanism of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA).

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said this would make them more affordable and reduce the burden faced by rural farmers.

He made this suggestion to its minister Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi who paid a courtesy call on him at his Wisma Bapa Malaysia here yesterday.

“At the moment, when such inputs reach the interiors, they cost much more due to transportation charges.

“If they are placed under the price control mechanism, our farmers can enjoy the same price as in urban areas,” he said.

He also suggested that transporters engaged by the ministry in sending consumer goods to the interiors give a helping hand to farmers there in transporting their produce to the urban markets.

“It is good if they can assist as after all, the lorries will be empty on the return trip. Farmers can then save on the transport costs,” he said.

Uggah, who is also Minister of Agriculture Modernisation, Native Land and Regional Development (Manred) said he would be writing officially to MDTCA to seek its co-operation.

On another note, he added his ministry was in the process of modernising its agriculture sector.

“Sarawak is land rich but our farmers have been engaging in subsistence farming all these while. We want to change this. We are going into modern commercial farming where we can increase our productivity substantially.

“We have strategic plans toward this, including meeting international food safety standards, so we can export to international markets,” he said.

Uggah said that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had tasked his ministry to spearhead the state agriculture modernisation transformation.

“Abang Johari has also envisaged for the state to be a net exporter of food and food products by 2030,” he said.

On the MDTCA coming programmes to promote local products and increase local consumption, Uggah said this augured well for the state.

He thanked the state MDTCA director Datuk Stanley Tan for his efforts in ensuring the state had enough supplies of essential items during the Covid-19 MCO period.

Meanwhile, Nanta said his ministry was ready to collaborate with Manred in promoting local products and in other pertinent matters.

He disclosed that his ministry had approved the setting up of sub-offices in Betong and Serian to help in monitoring of prices of essential items especially before any major celebrations like the Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Gawai Dayak and Christmas.