Sarawak to work with the Dutch to transform agriculture sector, says Abang Jo

Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg (left) speaking to reporters after opening the Sarawak-Dutch food security workshop in Kuching, accompanied by the Netherlands ambassador Jacques Werner. - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak will work together with the Netherlands to transform its agriculture sector through technology and ensure food security, says Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

The Premier said Sarawak was keen to learn from the Netherlands, which was the world's second largest exporter of food despite having a small land size and population.

"Sarawak can find out how the agriculture sector has developed in the Netherlands, where land use is not wasted.

"We have ample land here, so we can be an exporter of food in this part of the world, bearing in mind that half of the world's population is within a six-hour flight.

"We can reach out to this market to help eradicate hunger and provide quality food which is affordable to contribute to the prosperity of people in this region," he told reporters after opening the Sarawak-Netherlands food security workshop here on Tuesday (Jan 17).

To achieve this, Abang Johari said Sarawak needed to employ smart farming and train its human resources in technology.

"I hope the workshop will be a platform for sharing the Dutch success with us and encourage the use of technology to produce quality food," he said.

In his speech earlier, Abang Johari said Sarawak's agriculture sector was still lacking in the command of technology, soil management and nurseries to produce seeds.

He said many farmers still used traditional methods and it was not easy to change their mindset to adopt technology.

"If we can tackle these challenges, I believe we can transform the whole sector and contribute to food security in the region," he said.

Abang Johari later witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by the Sarawak Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Ministry with Sarawak Metropolitan Food Cluster Consortium, a Sarawak-Dutch group, to develop metropolitan food clusters in the state.

The metropolitan food cluster concept used by the Dutch addresses food production chain and sustainability issues by transforming rural landscapes close to urban areas into food production areas and optimising logistics to link them to domestic and external markets.

"This partnership comes at a timely juncture where Sarawak, through joining forces with the Netherlands, embarks on a journey to revolutionise its agriculture industry while answering the United Nations' sustainable development goals via the metropolitan food cluster concept," said Netherlands ambassador to Malaysia Jacques Werner.

He said the concept involved the integration of horticulture and greenhouses, livestock, animal feed, aquaculture, processing centres and collection centres, with a focus on innovation and digital transformation.

Werner also said the Dutch were keen to share their knowledge to ensure that sustainable food production was a global effort.

"With Sarawak's Dutch connection, I hope this can inspire potential trade and exchange of knowledge among us and serve as a blueprint for growth and prosperity for all," he added.

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