KOTA KINABALU: Food security is the main agenda on the Sabah Agriculture Blueprint 2021-2030, with plans to boost output and attract graduates into the sector.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who launched the blueprint on Tuesday (Nov 5), said the plan of action covering farming, fisheries and livestock sectors is to enable the state to address its dependency of food imports.
He also expressed confidence that the blueprint will boost agriculture's contribution to the state's gross domestic product (GDP) to around 40%, up from the current 24%.
“At present, we are still importing meat from Australia and India; we also import dairy for the country’s needs.
“I believed food security is an important step for Malaysia to face a challenging economy that is getting more competitive, and Sabah can play a part in this as we have vast fertile lands and we can apply technologies to optimise production.
“We believed we can produce crops like durians, pineapple, seaweed and certain fish types that not only become the country’s main exports, but is also sufficient for domestic use, ” he told reporters after the launching.
He explained that developing the agriculture sector to cater to the increasing population and demand, will create spillover and expand job opportunities as it also includes labour, logistics and transportation, marketing and food and beverage industries.
“So, I believe agriculture sector’s contribution to the state’s GDP can reach 30% or 40%, ” he added.
Shafie stressed that Sabah can no longer depend only on its traditional sectors like oil and gas (O&G) and tourism, as there was a need to diversify the economic cores to cushion any downturn.
“For example, if we face constraints in palm oil, the buffer will be there. So, Sabah's resources and revenues can be stabilised, ” he explained.
He added that moving forward, it is important to monitor the implementation and execution of the initiatives mapped out within the 10-year blueprint.
“We also have to spend money on research and development to help ensure our products are highly demanded by the market, ” said Shafie.
In his speech, Shafie has called on the Federal Government to consider allocating an integrated complex for catch landing, as well as management of import-export of fishes in Sabah, to be included as a project under the 12th Malaysia Plan, as the state is the biggest fisheries contributor in the country.
Meanwhile, state Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Junz Wong said space at unused coastal land/beaches will be allocated to villagers, youths and graduates interested in fisheries for them to develop fish farming.
“At the space (tol tanah) given, they will be given guidance, including selecting suitable fish seed to be farmed so that it caters to the market demand, ” he added.