KUCHING: The state Agriculture Department, through the Regional Economic Development Authority (Recoda), is setting up a 20ha agriculture station complex and a field station covering 614ha under its Integrated Baram Highland Agriculture Station (IHAS) project.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the complex and field station would help the Penan, and other rural minorities in Ulu Baram embark on commercial agriculture activities to improve their socio-economy.
The field station will act as a research and development centre with a demonstration farm for subtropical crops.
“There are about 13,000 Penans in Ulu Baram comprising over 2,200 households from 84 villages. These rural minorities especially the Penan community rely heavily on jungle produce, hunting and fishing for their daily food source.
“The human capital development programme carried out by the Agriculture Department has changed their way of life from being totally dependent on jungle produce to farming activities including crop planting, rearing livestock and fishing.
“These agriculture activities not only provide food source (self-sufficient) but also provide additional income and uplift them from the clutch of poverty,” Uggah, who is also Modernisation of Agriculture and Rural Economy Minister, told reporters at the State Legislative Assembly complex here.
He later witnessed the presentation of produce such as terung asam, tapioca and banana from the Penan community in Long Beruang and vegetable produce namely Hong Kong Cai Xin, Pak Choy Warrior-702 and Pak Choy Fairlady (Sawi Susu) as the initial trial output of the IHAS.
About 10ha of land have been cleared for the experimental crop at the station.
Uggah said the vast area in the Baram higland presents great potential for rural transformation, if properly planned and developed for agriculture.
Uggah’s predecessor Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, who is the state’s science research advisor, was also present at the event.
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