(Seated, from left) Ik Pahon, Sagah, Uggah, Dr Chai and Awang Johari with staff members of DOA at the event.

KUCHING: The Department of Agriculture (DOA) has been urged to update its data on food crops throughout the state for various purposes including keeping track of their potential for development.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas stated that this was in line with the state government’s vision to make Sarawak a net exporter of food products by 2030.

“I noticed that among the problems faced by the DOA is that some projects could not be completed and data on them went missing.

“For example, we (the department) have been informed that there are 900,000 durian trees throughout the state but we do not know their whereabouts,” he said.

Thus, there is a need to have accurate data because if the durian trees do exist, that means the state has the potential to produce almost 5,000 tons of durian paste in a year.

In the case of the sago, it also has potential but the immature trees which can be harvested right now are not accessible and nothing is done about it.

The same goes for rubber trees which are all over the state, but they are not tapped or collected.

“That is why data is very important so that we can manage them better. If, for example, we know where the main durian areas are, we may be able to build a temporary collection centre for them and then we work out the necessary infrastructure for the planting and so on,” said Uggah.

He was speaking at ‘Teambuilding Agriculture Department 2019 Programme’ held at Waterfront Hotel here, yesterday.

(Seated, from left) Ik Pahon, Sagah, Uggah, Dr Chai and Awang Johari with staff members of DOA at the event.

Uggah, who is also the Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, added that the government had already given the ministry RM797 million and the target of making the state a net exporter of food products by 2030.

As for the people, he observed that they had shown positive interest in the potential of the agriculture industry.

“This shows that we have managed to instill in Sarawakians that precision and modern agriculture is a game-changer for the industry,” he said.

“So from today, I want you (DOA) to come up with a policy of outcome-based management where each division lists out suggestions to develop its agricultural activities.

“For an example, if you want to introduce fertigation system (in a certain area), I want you to plan how many systems you want to implement. What is your objective? Don’t worry about the fund because the state government will work it out.”

He hoped all the state divisions would identify their successful farmers and tell him about the locations of durian trees.

“After that we plan and if necessary, build a temporary collection, processing and packaging centre (CPCC) which can be built in a month or two so that by year’s end, Sarawak can export even more local food products.

“Hopefully by March 2020, we would have complete data on the 900,000 durian trees in the state and their status,” he said.

Themed ‘Embrace Change’, the event started on Nov 28 and ended yesterday involving 100 participants from the DOA.

Also present were Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Assistant Minister Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn; Deputy State Secretary Datuk Ik Pahon Joyik; ministry acting permanent secretary Awang Johari Awang Mustapha, and state DOA acting director Dr Alvin Chai Lian Kuet.