KOTA KINABALU: The state government is injecting at least RM50mil to fund agricultural research in Sabah to achieve 100% self-sufficiency in food production, says Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.
The Deputy Chief Minister, who is also state Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, said the funds would be used to upgrade agriculture research facilities in Sandakan, Tawau and Tuaran.
"All of these research facilities have successfully produced a variety of food products that could aid us in our efforts to secure food for the people.
"As a bonus, these products are highly profitable because of their high quality," he said during his visit to the Ulu Dusun agricultural research facility in Sandakan.
Currently, the state Agriculture Department only receives about RM2mil per year for research and development.
He said it was important to empower the department and turn the research centres like the one in Ulu Dusun, the main research centre on agricultural tissue culture technology in Sabah.
"Our research centres are critical to our operations because, without the expertise and knowledge of our researchers, we would have to rely on research done by the private sector or even overseas on our own local plants.
"We don't want that to happen because it would mean losing commercial opportunities, not to mention the possibility of biopiracy of our local biodiversity," he said.
Kitingan's visit coincides with the launching of the 60th anniversary of the Ulu Dusun Sandakan agriculture research facility on Saturday (Sept 24).
Kitingan also said that the Sabah government recently formed a Cabinet-level committee to address food security issues.
"The committee is an essential step as we intensify our efforts to increase our food self-sufficiency across all food groups.
“We must ensure Sabah has sufficient food supply in the future," he said, adding that a task force would put in place strategies to achieve the goals.