SFO in livestock project with Green Valley Dairy

KUCHING: Sarawak Farmers’ Organisation (SFO) and Green Valley Dairy Sdn Bhd have forged a joint venture to set up a factory to produce halal mozzarella cheese from buffalo milk.

The parties will also join hands in the rearing of the livestock, production and commercialisation of buffalo products.

Construction work on the cheese factory project in Maragang, Lawas, northern Sarawak is expected to be completed by mid-2024.

The cheese products are due to hit the market at the end of 2024, according to Sarawak Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom.

The factory targets to produce 5,000 litres of buffalo milk a day, out of which 20% of the milk extracted will be used for cheese production.SFO chairman Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail, who is also state Deputy Minister for Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development, and Green Valley Dairy chief executive officer Dr Raja Imran Shah signed the joint venture agreement witnessed by Rundi here last week.

Rundi said the Sarawak government is supporting the SFO initiative with an allocation of RM15mil to acquire assets to jump start the joint-venture project. SFO members are drawn from 28 farmers’ organisations, which represent some 174,000 farmers state-wide.

Green Valley Dairy seeks to attract 500 new participants for the joint-venture buffalo farming project by 2025, and to increase the buffalo population by 1,000 heads every year via artificial insemination processes and other advanced technologies.

The company aimed to develop Lawas and Limbang, which borders the rich sultanate Brunei, as collection, processing and packaging locations for buffalo products by working closely with the Sarawak Veterinary Services Department and local universities.

According to Rundi, there are currently 7,000 buffaloes being reared by 600 families, predominantly in Lawas and Limbang districts.He said it is important for Sarawak to improve on its self-sufficiency level for buffalo products, currently at between 12% and 14%, to 30% by 2030.

Rundi said the success of the buffalo breeding and cheese production project in Lawas would enable the authorities to replicate it in other areas in the state.

“At the moment, we also have private investors and farmers making efforts in the breeding of sheep in Temudok, Sri Aman. This is also a joint venture.

“It is pertinent for Sarawak to increase its self-sufficiency level of livestock, as the country is importing about RM60bil and RM5bil worth of livestock and its subsidiary products respectively every year,” he added.

On agricultural products, Rundi said the Sarawak government wants to set up as many agro parks as possible, with the deployment of modern technologies to increase food production and quality in line with its target to be a net food exporter by 2030.

Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had said recently that the state aimed to open 405ha to build agro parks in various places including the Bintulu and Kuching regions that are near to the ports, to ensure export-oriented food production.

The agro parks, said Johari, would be similar to industrial parks and be equipped with the latest digital infrastructure and subdivided with anchor companies.

They will help the small producers by acting as wholesalers and move their agricultural products to the market.

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