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KUCHING, Dec 4 ― The Sarawak government has identified durian, pineapple, banana and coconut crops that have the potential to increase the income of the farming communities, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah said today.
He urged the state Agriculture Department to focus on the production of these crops to meet the demand of both local and overseas markets.
“I would also like to remind the department's research officers that their research projects must focus on these crops,” he said in his speech at the opening of a three-day Agriculture Department's Research Officers' Progress Meeting here.
His speech was read by Assistant Minister of Agriculture Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail.
Uggah, who is also the state Minister of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, said there are about 400,000 matured durian trees throughout the state.
“However, Sarawak is not able to capitalise on its existing durian trees due to poor farm management resulting in unproductive trees, lack of processing facilities and poor coordination among the stakeholders,” he said.
In view of these constraints, he said a sum of RM2.5 million was allocated this year for a pilot durian rehabilitation programme in Kuching, Serian, Betong, Miri and Limbang, adding that for next year, another RM4 million will be allocated to implement the programme in other Divisions in Sarawak.
Uggah said another RM3 million will be allocated for the durian new planting programme for smallholders, who will be provided with planting materials.
“In view of that, research officers should actively identify good quality local and indigenous durians that can be promoted and commercialised,” he said.
On pineapple, Uggah said there is a high market demand from overseas for fresh and pineapple-related products.
He urged the Agriculture Department to actively promote the planting of pineapple through smallholders and increasing private sector participation, adding that the state government has set a target of 100,000 hectares of pineapple farms by year 2030.
He said as a start, a sum of RM2 million has been allocated for pineapple new planting programme for next year.
He said the state government has allocated a sum of RM1 million this year for banana plantation and another RM1 million next year for the banana new planting programme to assist smallholders.
He added that the state government has set a target of expanding the farm hectarage to 100,000 by year 2030 from the current 12,600 for coconut crop.
He urged research officers to take up the challenge of finding alternative methods to mass propagate the crop in view of the constraints in finding planting materials for large scale planting of the crop.