More funds sought for farm projects


Visitors thronging the exhibition pavilion at the Farmers, Fishermen and Livestock Breeders Day in Kota Samarahan. – Photo: ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / The Star

KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has asked for more federal funds for agriculture projects in Sarawak, but in saying so, he also told locals not to abuse the system.

Adenan said it was no secret some in the industry were out to make a fast buck by selling subsidised goods.

“Subsidies aim to reduce production cost and increase volume. I hope everyone uses what they receive for the intended purposes. It does happen in Sarawak whereby some people sell off their subsidies,” Adenan told thousands at the Farmers, Fishermen and Livestock Breeders’ Day here on Saturday.

“Some recipients of subsidised fertiliser and pesticides, among other things, they sell it to the shops. It happens. Some ‘action jak’ (pretend only). Of course, I do not encourage such acts.”

There was no short-cut to success, he said, but conceded agriculture was one of the toughest industries to be in. Not only do farmers, fishermen and livestock breeders face global problems like climate

change, but they also have to deal with shifting social trends.

“Production no longer ends with harvest. You also need to figure out marketing strategies,” Adenan said.

Federal funds should go towards building basic infrastructure like roads to interior communities, marketing, grants and loans, Adenan suggested.

“On infrastructure like roads and agriculture projects, it’s not good enough yet in Sarawak. We ask to be at least on par with the peninsula. The Sarawak government itself is focusing on rural agriculture

development, trying to ensure no one is left out. Sarawak is very big, I hope the government will help us overcome challenges.”

He said the industry’s gap between peninsula and Sarawak meant there was still large potential untapped in Malaysia’s largest state.

Nationally last year, agriculture was the fourth largest contributor to Malaysia’s economy at 14%.

The event at Samarahan was only the second time the annual Farmers, Fishermen and Livestock Breeders’ Day had been held in Sarawak. The previous time was in 1987.

Also present were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.

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