KOTA KINABALU: There is huge potential in Sabah for the integration of domestic livestock farms and oil palm plantations to increase the state's self-sufficiency for meat production.
Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said that oil palm plantations cover a vast area of about two million hectares in the state and the use of ruminants from the palm oil industry for livestock feed could help (increase domestic meat production) reduce the state's dependency on meat imports.
"Lately, it has been a challenge to increase our self-sufficiency on ruminant meats because of various factors such as the increase in the price of feed due to the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and global climate change.
"These have affected the production of raw materials such as soy, maize and wheat for ruminant feed in other countries.
"Therefore, we need to think of ways to produce our own meat," he said in his speech when officiating the state-level Farm Day in Keningau about 100km from here on Friday (Dec 2).
He said integrating ruminants from plantations was a workable strategy considering that palm kernel cake as well as palm fronds are a food source for livestock.
Other than oil palm plantations, Kitingan, who is also Sabah Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, said idle land could be utilised for growing grass, particularly napier grass, as a feed source.
Earlier, Veterinary Services Department director Dr Normah Yusop said the self-sufficiency level for meat production in Sabah is below 10%, which is very low.
She said Sabah is still highly dependent on meat imports from countries like India and Australia.
However, she said the department had taken steps to increase the level of self-sufficiency by working with government-linked companies to develop the ruminant meat industry in the state.
Among the strategic plans is to develop the Borneo Dairy Valley through cooperation with the Sabah Land Development Board (SLDB) and Keningau Livestock Integrated Centre (KLIC).
Another form of cooperation, she said, was with Sawit Kinabalu.