SARIKEI: The Sarikei and Betong divisions in Sarawak will be developed to become the state's food basket by 2030, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
Uggah, who is also Sarawak Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Minister, said there was plenty of land in both areas still available for large scale and commercial cultivation of fruits.
“We are confident we can achieve this as we will rely on new farming methods and modern technologies besides also having the advantage of hardworking farmers and people interested investing as well,” he said when launching the annual week-long Sarikei Pineapple and Fruits Festival.
He said the state government viewed this as a very big challenge but it was confident of success by encouraging local farmers to produce in very large quantities.
“We will ensure that whatever products they produce will meet the stringent quality standards expected by importing countries. We will propose the setting up of a centralised collection centre to collect fruits from all over,” he added.
On areas in the Sarikei division, Uggah said it produced some 21 different varieties of fruits with durian alone occupying a cultivated acreage of 800ha at present.
“Now there is huge demand for the Musang King durian in China. We are encouraging farmers to expand their gardens to step up productivity,” he said.
He added that the Sarikei district was also famous for its sweet pineapple and is currently the country's second largest producer of the fruit.
“It is now the government's plan that by 2020, it will be the country's biggest producer by increasing the area under cultivation from 221ha now to about 2,000ha,” he said.
He added that his ministry would work closely with the Malaysian Pineapple Board on planting the NB2 variety which has a longer shelf life. — Bernama